Today I’m going to talk about something that may seem a bit odd: The conference blues.
“Oh, Tiff. You mean the post-conference letdown?”
No. I don’t mean that at all. What I’m talking about is the deep sense of intimidation or “not belonging” that I’ve both seen in others and experienced myself at various writer’s conferences. This is something that I was completely unprepared for when I attended my first national writing conference in September 2006.
I was so excited…so prepared…so overwhelmed.
I remember when I got there I’d already been published in two national print publications [Today’s Christian and Charisma Magazine] and I’d also been a regular columnist for a local newspaper. Yet, as I walked around the group of about 300 people a voice in my head kept asking me, “What are you doing here? You don’t belong here.”
The insecurity was so deep inside that I ended up getting up and leaving a group of writers to go hide in my hotel room and cry.
I wanted to list a few things that I’ve experienced and how I’ve been able to overcome them. Even if you’ve never experienced these at a conference, all of us during our writing journey will feel these things from time to time. It is okay. You’ll get past it and be stronger when it is over.
- I’m not as good a writer as [insert person’s name].
- When I [insert benchmark] THEN I’ll be a real writer.
- Everyone here knows more people than I do.
- I cannot believe I spent all of this money and didn’t get [award, requested manuscript, agent, etc.]
- Maybe I’m not as good as I thought. I should give up.
These are just a few things that I’ve felt [and others have said about themselves to me]. I want you to understand that everyone feels this way at some point. The fact is, it will
never go away if your goal is continual growth. There is a great pastor named Gary Keesee and he says, “If you’re not doing the hardest thing you’ve ever done then you’re not growing.” I’ve found that is true.
On February 2, I had my 36th birthday. This is significant because it was 2 days before my 30th birthday that I had my first ever requested full [that means an editor requested my full manuscript
for consideration]. Three months later I had my 2nd requested full and a year after that I won the Daphne du Maurier award with my 3rd manuscript and secured an agent.
And you still won’t find my name on a novel.
Two years ago that really bugged me. A year ago I was deeply depressed about it.
Today, I am absolutely okay about it. You know why? Because I looked at how far I’ve come. My dream has always been to be a full-time writer earning a living with my writing. Writing Career Coach currently employs three writers and two editors in addition to 3 sales managers and about 3 or 4 subcontractors. I go across the country teaching and speaking to writing groups and to companies/business owners on writing.
My name isn’t YET on the cover of a novel, but I’ve certainly grown from where I was. I was only measuring my success by a SINGLE criteria—fiction publication.
And that is the key to truly enjoying your next writing conference. Focus on the growth areas you may not have noticed. What new connections did you make? Who did you come in contact with? What new writing or marketing skill did you develop and how will it make you a better writer overall.
Instead of defining success as a RESULT why not define it as ACTIONS? See, actions you can control [I have 3 new techniques to improve my writing and one new marketing idea I will implement this week.] Results you cannot always control [I want to have an agent sign me.]
Finally, results are one time occurrences. Simply getting a requested manuscript will NOT always mean publication [in fact, the odds are against you]. But learning how to show rather than tell or how to create engaging subplots will serve you in each and every book you write.
Everyone has a starting point. The most successful writers [Yes, even our beloved Susie May Warren] were once unknowns who longed for someone—anyone—to notice their work. Each of us have to go through the process. Just don’t give up.
And when you see someone who looks like they may be questioning themselves, invite them in to your conversation. The best way to get your mind off of yourself is to get it on someone else.
Tiffany Colter is an award winning writer whose credits include Today’s Christian, Charisma Magazine, Toledo Business Journal, and regular columns for Afictionado E-zine and the Suspense Magazine where she writes the “Ask your Writing Career Coach” column. She is the owner of The Writing Career Coach and Writing Career Coach Press. Tiffany teaches and speaks on connecting with your target market through written communication at live events and through online workshops. She served as coordinator of The Master Seminars for Chip MacGregor, and serves as a judge for multiple writing contests.
For Tiffany, writing is about a relationship. It is more than stories. More than communication. It is even more than a way to make a living. Writing is about connecting with people and understanding them where they are. As a business owner, making this connection is imperative to the success of your company. Words evoke feelings. They engage your senses. They change you. http://writingcareercoach.blogspot.com/ . http://writingcareercoach.com/