I love going to writer’s conferences. It’s no wonder I enjoy them, I always meet great people, hear inspirational speeches, and learn new techniques (or hone old ones.) But more importantly, every time I do something serious that has to do with writing—like going to conferences—it reminds me that I AM a writer.
Why is that important? Well, for one thing, if I didn’t constantly remind myself, I would definitely forget. It’s like…well, take religion for example. If you don’t go to church, don’t learn new things, don’t read the doctrine every so often, you’d sort of forget you’re a member of that religion. If someone asks what religion you are, you might tell them the church you used to attend—but you probably wouldn’t tell them that you haven’t been there for five years—and I highly doubt you’d suddenly become a missionary.
And think about math. If you don’t do algebra equations (or heaven forbid, something more complicated and difficult—ugh) regularly, you forget how. I know I did. I haven’t been in school for years, and do you think I’m any good at helping my ninth grader with his geometry? No way.
What about language? If you were to live in a foreign country for three or four years, speaking only that foreign language and never the language of your own country—might you forget how to say certain words? Sure. My husband did.
Here’s a big one. If you email or text or blog without ever worrying about grammar, punctuation, spelling, and the other basic writing rules you learned in elementary school, you will very likely forget those things altogether. It would stink to have to learn them over again. Believe me, I know some people who are doing just that, and they do not find it fun.
If you’re a writer, you have to write every day. Write something. Email. Journal entries. Blogs. Free writing. It doesn’t matter what, and everything you write doesn’t have to be publishable. In fact, sometimes it shouldn’t be. As long as you’re doing it, you’re making progress.
One of my good friends—who I met at a recent conference at BYU—said the other day, “I really want to do this, so I’m jumping in with both feet.” To that I say, hallelujah! That’s the best way—and sometimes the only way—to do it. Take all the classes you can, go to conferences, join critique groups, and most importantly write every day.
There’s a writer’s conference in my area next week. I’ve been planning to go all year. But when it came time to register, I hesitated. Come on, everyone’s feeling the same economic crunch these days. So I didn’t register, and I put it off for a couple of months. But that little voice inside me—either my muse or my conscience, I can’t decide which—kept nagging at me crying, “Just write a darn check and make the reservation! You’ll be sorry if you miss it.” So, I wrote some extra blogs, scraped together some cash, and made the arrangements. Because even though I could think of a hundred other places to use that money, I feel the same way as my friend Carolyn. Only I decided to jump in feet first three years ago. This time, I’m diving headlong into the depths of the ocean, and taking my manuscripts with me!
If I don’t pop up for air soon, will someone please throw me a life preserver?