Monday, February 18, 2019

Five Things You Might Not Expect from a Writers' Conference

By Andrea Merrell

Writers’ conferences are essential in the life of a writer. Those of you have been writing for a while know this for a fact. We save our money and set aside the time to go and learn from the best. We expect to expand our knowledge, get inspired, network with other writers, and hopefully land an agent or contract. But here are a few things we might not expect.

New Friends
Over the past ten years, I have met many wonderful people at conferences. Little did I know in the beginning that some of those people would become dear friends. Many times, a conference will feel more like a family reunion.

Critique Partners

As important as conferences are to the life of a writer, so are good critique partners. If you don’t have a group in your area, this is a great place to forge relationships and create the support you need. You might meet people in your area who can meet on a regular basis, or you might form an online group. The important thing is to get involved.

Prayer Partners

God never ceases to amaze me at the way He knits hearts together. He has given me a wonderful group of prayer warriors who go to bat for me whenever I need it.

A New Perspective

Sometimes we go to a conference with a certain mindset, while God has a different plan. Proverbs 16:9 says A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps. If you’re a novelist, He may inspire you to write heartfelt devotions. Or if you write nonfiction only, He may give you the idea for a great fictional story. You might be the shy person sitting on the back row whom God calls to a speaking ministry. You never know what God might do in your life when you’re open to His leading.

Unexpected Writing Opportunities

Networking is one of the most exciting things about a conference. You are there with like-minded people who “get you.” As you interact, you never know the seeds that are being planted. They might sprout immediately ... or show up years down the road. 

Last year at my first ACFW conference, I was seated next to an amazing woman who does a blog on fear. As we chatted, she invited me to do a guest post for her blog. Several years ago, when I was on the faculty of a conference in another state, I met a lady who was just getting started on her writing journey. She kept my card and contacted me three years later to write a few guest posts for her blog. As a result of teaching at a conference six years ago, I was recently contacted by a very sweet lady and asked to edit her book. Once at a table during a meal, I was asked to speak at the National Speakers Association because someone had cancelled at the last minute. Who knows, someone might invite you to do a radio interview or speak at their church.

Whatever you do—before, during, and after a conference—be ready. Whenever you ask God to bless you and open doors of opportunity, He will. The best way to begin each day is to pray for divine appointments, divine connections, and divine favor.

What about you? What unexpected blessings have found you at a conference? We would love to hear from you.

(Photo courtesy of and Stuart Miles.)


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