Writing Conference Weekend

Last Saturday I spent the day at a one-day conference put on by the Oregon Christian Writers. While the speakers were good and the conference, well organized, what I most enjoyed was simply being in a huge room full of writers all day. I loved meeting other writers, hearing about their projects, whether in progress or just an idea, their published books, and perhaps above all, their writing process.

I loved batting around ideas about how to stay focused, how to make time for writing when you have a full life, how to set priorities and boundaries, and how to take care of yourself so you can do your best work.

Another wonderful part of the weekend was exchanging contact info with other writers and bloggers so we can stay in touch and cheer each other on.

Although the conference was just one day, I took the opportunity to turn it into a writing retreat, by book-ending the conference with a hotel stay the night before and night after. This way I had time to write, enjoy some solitude and process what I learned before it was time to go back home.

Have you ever experienced a rapid perspective shift when you get out of your normal routine? I sure did this weekend. I realized that trying to run away from my health problems doesn't work, I haven't made it up, it's real and I must find a way to acknowledge it and take care of myself even in the midst of dreams and travel.

I couldn't believe how tired I was. It was really frustrating, to the point of tears, how much time I had to spend resting instead of writing. It was great to get some writing done, and I was thrilled to enjoy the conference, but I had to realize at one point that if I don't take care of the writer, the writer won't be able to get any work done.

Sometimes when we dream, at least I know this is how it's been for me, we imagine a fantasy world without factoring in challenges or realities. I realized a few years ago that dreams up close are less glossy. When a fantasy becomes reality it's wonderful, of course, but it will include things you didn't count on when you were dreaming. My writing conference/retreat fantasy became reality this weekend. It was wonderful. It also included the reality of pain, a short night due to pain, exhaustion and some tears. I left my house in the pouring rain with a crying daughter. These things are reality.

I think it's important to remember when dreaming, that while your dream can be wonderful, perhaps even better than you dreamed it, it will also be real life when it comes true. Maybe if we know that going in, we can create reasonable expectations.

Here are some of the realizations I had while away:

I am very blessed to have supportive people in my life who help me make dreams come true. Special thank you to my husband and my parents here.

Not all days will be word count days. Some days will be resting days so that I can create another day.

Continuing to make space in my days for creativity and for my writing will yield results, even if it's just a bit of time consistently. Consistency creates results.

If you have a dream, what's stopping you from making it a reality? Get real and honest with yourself here. Write it down and process it. Then figure out the first step. For me, one of my first steps was that it was time to see the doctor again and try to implement a new treatment plan, so I can be living a more full and vital life.

I have to take my own dreams and goals seriously before anyone else will. Similarly, I have to ask for what I need and want.

I hope you join me in taking your dreams and goals seriously, and figuring out the first, or next, step to pursuing them. No one's going to do your work for you. You make it happen! And when it does, give yourself a bit of grace with the realities, and don't forget to say thank you to those who helped you along the way.


  1. Jennifer, God was doing some speaking to his children this weekend! I am so glad you had that time with him and learned and brought back some really great realizations. I had a similar time with God on Sunday, when he just kind of took over my thoughts and said, "It's ok to make time for yourself and your dreams. Plan times into your schedule to be creative, it's not selfish, it's how I made you!" With chronic illness as you know, our time of "being productive in some form" is a very precious commodity. We do well just focusing on the day to day care of ourselves and our family, but what feeds us and our passions (besides our care for family and serving God) need some time and that is OK! :)

  2. Interesting to read about your weekend and some of your insights! Also love your step-by-step description of how to begin realizing one's dreams--ideal for people like me. Take the first step, allow grace for the realities, and say thanks. Very good advice.

  3. Jennifer, I am so glad you took the steps in faith to attend the conference. I am also aware, from my times away from home, how hard a push it is to go and interact and yes, even the excitement can be draining. While we are so engaged, we are still having to "fight" the afflictions that make up our chronic illness. All we have done is change geography! It can be easier when at home to sit down and rest but not so easy in the midst of an exhuberant crowd.

    I appreciate the insights you shared. God leads us all in unique ways but there are a lot we learn from each other - even if at times it is the beautiful understanding that we share the emotions of how dreams unfold in the reality of our every day. May we never be discouraged to pursue our dreams - but may we let the One who holds our dreams keep us ever aware of His Presence within them.

  4. Such a beautiful comment, and you are so right. Thank you!

  5. I'm glad it is helpful for you.

  6. Yes! I know that when I am creating, I am energized. And we are creative because we are made in His image.

  7. I'm so glad you were able to go to a writer's conference! I hope that the Lord blesses you with many years to write.

    Thanks for sharing what you learned at the conference. I've been struggling with the real life reality of my dreams lately, and this was encouraging to me.

  8. I'm so glad you were encouraged! I know God has great plans for you.

  9. I too would long to be a writer. I could see myself in your post. I have been to conferences before. I alsways have to way the cost because I know it will be a sacrifice and I will suffer from exhaustion. I do get something out of it too. I try to hold onto what I got out of it. Sometimes it would be so nice to just be able to enjoy it, stay up late with others and nnot suffer the consequences.

  10. So true. I think often with chronic illness/pain, we learn to see the silver lining in everything though and beauty others miss. Thankful for that.


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