After one of the toughest and most rewarding years in my writing journey, I registered for the 2017 West Coast Christian Writers Conference and asked the Lord to keep my heart open for ministry opportunities. Who can I encourage today, Lord? Who needs to be seen, heard, and loved? Who are You going to use to inspire me, as You reveal the next step in my writing journey?
God didn’t only use the people on stage or in front of the classrooms to speak truth and build up His scribes, although He definitely did that.
As writers mingled, He transformed conversations into unquestionable affirmation. He used passing comments to trigger ideas and become healing balms to hurting hearts.
Introverts became bold.
With a dimpled smile, Chrissy Drzewiecki said, “I actually stepped out of my comfort zone and talked to a few people . . . and I really mean only a few. I stumbled over my words, but still spoke. God led me to a few ladies who I just know will be friends forever.”
Though Debbie Jones Warren celebrated the publication of her first story in “Inspire Joy,” she said, “I was reminded to prioritize my first ministry, emailing devotionals to my 101 closest friends and ensuring I reply to each comment, rather than obsessing over being published.”
Writers recognized their value in the body of Christ, realizing their voices mattered simply because they are unique members of God’s family.
“Writers, editors, and agents are people . . . pretty much like me,” said Teresa Wilson. “I found such encouragement to keep going, to keep taking that next step, to keep writing because it’s worth it big time. I was also reminded it’s not about me, but about sharing God’s goodness. I loved that! Mostly, I walked away feeling like I mattered, like I’m doing something for Him.”
Writers enjoyed a sense of belonging and confirmation of their great purpose.
Victoria Penry Langdon said, “This conference rejuvenated and affirmed this is what God is calling me to do–write and fellowship more with my family of Christians.”
Behind the scenes at the 2017 WCCW conference, God freed writers from fear, anxiety, and the comparison trap.
“Sometimes I get stuck comparing my journey to someone I see as successful,” said Amanda Sue. “But being around other writers in the midst of their waiting, their setbacks, their faithfully tending where God has planted them, I am so encouraged to keep going.”
Alison Cheah added, “I realized that rejection is not failure; it is failure to put myself in the place where I can be rejected that is failure.”
“I have always struggled with being good enough,” said Sherryl Abramson. “Am I a good enough daughter, wife, mother, teacher, and now, writer? I can now say, ‘I am good enough.’ It was life affirming!”
Damon J. Gray said, “I could not have deliberately scripted a more uplifting, productive, and encouraging weekend.”
“The WCCW conference was the right place, at the right time, and with the right people to take my writing to the next level,” said April Chapman.
Cheri Parker Fletcher added, “This conference is great for those of us who are new and just need a stone on which to take that first step.”
The courageous keynote speakers, Michele Cushatt and Tosca Lee, and the WCCW faculty members set the tone for the transparency behind the scenes, as God inspired writers to write with ferocity.
Dana Mentink said, “I was touched to hear the journeys that each writer has taken to get to the point where they are ready to tell their story. Michele Cushatt’s amazing testimony reminded us all about God’s purpose and presence in our lives.”
Though many of us register for conferences with the intention of gaining something, our experience will be enriched when we go with the mission of encountering God through our encounters with His people.
As these writers testified, the Lord will make a difference in our lives and use us to make a difference in someone else’s life as we mingle with Him and others.
While we wait for the 2019 WCCW conference, we can hone our skills through ongoing learning opportunities presented on the Inspire blog and through upcoming Inspire workshops.
We can also enjoy more of God’s amazing behind-the-scenes work by participating in one or more of the following Christian Writers Conferences:
These are only a few of the conferences I’ve researched, attended, or have recommended. I encourage writers to research and ask for recommendations before choosing which workshops or conferences fit your needs and your budget. Remember to plan ahead if you’re interested in participating in contests, applying for scholarships if needed, and volunteering to help during events.
As we invest in the writing community, we’ll grow while building into fellow scribes who share our devotion to loving God and others, each one doing our part to invest in the expansion of God’s Kingdom.
Xochitl (soh-cheel) E. Dixon encourages women and teens to embrace God’s grace and grow deeper in their personal relationships with Christ and others. Her devotions will be featured in Our Daily Bread, starting in 2017. Married to her best friend since 1994, she enjoys being a wife and mom, traveling, photography, and sharing God’s Word through Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and her blog.