Blog Archive

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Planning for a Writer's Conference: Tips from Barbara Haley

Today I'm turning over my blog to Barbara Haley so she can give her insight on being a writers convention registrar. Barb is not only a great organizer, she is also an elementary teacher and reading interventionist and has been writing for over 20 years. 

Her fiction includes juvenile chapter books: The Purple Heart, Boot Camp, and Singing Soldiers. In nonfiction, she is a regular contributor of devotions for The Secret Place and Quiet Hour and has published numerous articles and short stories in magazines, compilation books, and Sunday school papers. 

Here's Barb's tips...

As I prepare for the conference, I’m reminded of the time just before my first conference when I didn’t feel like I was really ready to go. I didn’t know if I was a writer, and I felt guilty squandering our money just for a fun trip. Our finances were tight at the time, and I wondered if I was being a good steward of the money God gave us.

As the days before the conference ticked off, my anxiety grew. I rushed to get projects finished, but life happened and I seemed to get little accomplished. I would be presenting projects I was not yet proud of—writing not yet perfectly matched with my plans and expectations.

I couldn’t figure out how to be perfect. How to impress the editors and agents with whom I would be meeting. How to know ahead of time exactly what they wanted to see and hear. How to avoid the horrible experience of embarrassment or failure.

In all honesty, though I didn’t see it at the time, my anxiety boiled down to pride—not being able to control what others saw and felt about me. All my life I had been an over-achiever because my self-worth was totally wrapped up in my performance and the affirmation of others.

The excitement I first felt when signing up for the conference slowly dissipated, replaced by dread and insecurity. I couldn’t sleep. Couldn’t concentrate. Couldn’t write.

Finally, I talked to my husband about my situation. “I’m so sorry, honey,” I said. “I feel like I’m wasting our precious money. I wonder if I could cancel and get a partial refund.”

With warm eyes, my sweet husband just smiled in his special reassuring way. “No, you’re not going to cancel. I don’t care if all you do is go sit under the mountains and spend time with Jesus. That would be worth every penny we’re spending!”

Wow! What a relief. The pressure to perform was off. I was going on a vacation with my precious friend and Savior, Jesus. With His help, I would do the best I could—and that would be enough. I could trust Him to walk beside me and show me His plan for my writing. 

Each year, I remember those wise words from my husband. And each year, I consciously take time to lay aside the pressure of “being ready” and focus on my time with God. For when I turn my eyes to Him, the things of earth truly do grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.

I've attended the Colorado and Philadelphia Christian writers conferences for the last 16 years. I can honestly say that I have learned more here than from all the books I've bought and studied. The one-on-one appointments, the 30-minute individual paid critiques, and the in-depth studies provided in the continuing sessions answer my questions, strengthen my skills, and encourage me to keep writing the message God gives me. And on top of all that, I’ve developed close friendships and see the conference as a giant reunion of our family of writers.

Marlene Bagnull, director of Write His Answer annual Christian writers conferences in Colorado and Philadelphia, provides excellent tips on preparing for a writing conference at http://philadelphia.writehisanswer.com/preparingforappointments.
Marlene has a heart for writers and has inspired and mentored hundreds of authors for over 30 years. Her wish is that anyone who feels called to Write His Answer will find a way to attend the conferences. And she will do all she can to make that happen … for YOU!

The book you see at the top of this post is Barbara's newest release,  Lord, Get Your Needle - I’m Falling Apart at the Seams: The Emotional Strain of Chronic Pain

If you'd like to know more about Barbara's writing and upcoming works, here's the link to her website: www.barbarahaleybooks.com