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After the Conference Ends…
Thursday, August 8, 2013 by Cindy Sproles

I’ve just returned from three Christian Writers Conferences.  They were back to back over a 2 1/2 week time span. Between the flights, car rides, 15 hour schedules, and crossing back and forth from Eastern to Central time numerous times, I hardly knew what day of the week it was. Conference season is grueling – it’s hard work for the faculty. It takes it’s toll but it’s worth every moment.

“All you do is sit and listen to conferees talk,” remarked a first time conferee. I smiled, nodded and tried to remember what day I last ate lunch. (I think it was on Monday…wait, what’s today? Wednesday?)

Here’s the thing. I love attending conferences. It’s an honor to teach classes, answer questions and encourage writers – even if they follow me into the bathroom and slide their one sheet under the stall door. I understand their excitement and wonder – and I’d never do anything to squelch that.  When I’m teaching at a conference, I’m there wholeheartedly for the conferee. It’s a gift and one I love to unwrap slowly and savor.

A conference day (for faculty) begins about 6 a.m. We’re  at meals to mingle with conferees, chat, look at their work. We move on to classes where we teach for 1-3 hrs at a time and then we congregate in an appointment room to meet one-on-one with writers. We walk from class to class with conferees in tow and the time flies past. It’s WONDERFUL. In essence – by the time midnight comes, I have little to no voice left and my smile bears the faded tint of my lip dye from early morning. Still this is the joy. Cramming all we can into a few days.

After the conference,when all the excitement dies down and the writer’s bubble deflates, what comes next?

For me: I come home, unpack and start to sift through hundreds of emails filled with questions and submissions. I pray daily for the conferees I was able to spend good time with and then hope they act on the passion of writing.

When you return from a conference it’s time to set the pace for a new writing schedule. Follow these steps to keep the conference experience alive.

*Pray about your writing and God’s direction and provision (both in words and in time).

*Write every day. Even if you aren’t sure what to write, write something. Tear a photo from a magazine and write what you see.  It’s great practice and you learn to translate what you see into words.

*Study. Conferences will hook you up with great books you can use as writing tools. Remember, you’ve attended a writers conference in order to learn. So grab hold of the resources and study.

*Find your niche. Begin to search for the subject you are passionate about. These are the things that will develop your writing voice.

*Read. Read fiction. Read non-fiction. Read, read, read. The best way to learn to write is to emulate those you enjoy reading.

When the conference ends, the work is only beginning.  So reach out – trust – and WRITE.

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