Lessons I Learned From Attending a Writers Conference – Part 2

Must Love DogsLast week I shared a few of the lessons I learned from attending my first writers conference. Today I’m sharing the final three, starting with…

Lesson 3: If you were supposed to do it at 20 (or 24 or 34), and you didn’t, it will follow you your whole life. Think back to the thing the 17 or 18 year old you wanted to do or be.  The thing you realized you loved doing and were good at.

And then life got in the way.

So you put it on the shelf for a year.

And then another.

And suddenly you’re 40. And that thing is still there, somewhat dimmed by life, but sitting in your soul. At the conference I was reminded that if it’s still in there it deserves a place in your life. It deserves your care, nurturing, and attention and it’s your responsibility to make it happen, regardless of your age. Just before one of the sessions I met a woman who’s a pharmacist by trade, but who’s wanted to write for 20 years. And now she has, self-publishing her own books  God and the Garden – Devotionals for Fruitful Living.   You can check out Lilka Raphael’s books here.

Lesson 4: Whatever you’re supposed to be doing, do it every day without the excuses.  Talk less about what you’re going to do, should do, and want to do, and just do it. The difference I saw at the conference between the writers who were manuscript ready, and those who dream of being published authors, wasn’t necessarily talent. It wasn’t age or connections, it was that the people who were there with a pitch and their own books in hand sat down and wrote every day. Every day.

Author Claire Cook, best known for her bestselling novel turned Hollywood movie, Must Love Dogs, told us that she writes two pages a day. She gets up first thing in the morning, and before emails, before Facebook and Twitter, she writes her two pages. This is an author who’s published 10 books and had one of her books turned into a movie. I was struck by the fact that even though Claire’s made it, she seems to be working just as hard to stay “made” as she did to get there. There’s no easy path to get to where you want to go, and once you get there, the path doesn’t get any easier. By the way, Claire wrote her first book at 45 years old sitting in her minivan while waiting for her kids to finish swimming practice. At 50 she was walking the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of ‘Must Love Dogs’. Do it everyday without excuses. Claire’s story is also a reminder that your age is not an excuse.

Lesson 5: Not everyone will be happy about your success (however you define it).  Some might question your abilities, others might secretly (or not so secretly) think you’re an idiot for even trying. Don’t let that stop you. Claire told us of seeing friends fall by the wayside as her success increased. She said she even had close family members who hadn’t read any of her books. We’re human, so the realization that some of the folks closest to us will not embrace what we’re doing might sting a little. Or a lot. I’m sure some of it bugged Claire, although maybe not so much the night she walked the red carpet at the Hollywood premiere of her New York Times best-selling book-turned-movie. So there’s that.


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  • Pamela@inthepresent.com

    I think this is a great lesson for all of us in anything we want to do. I’m working with a client now – i won’t mention her age but she has wanted to publish her children’s book and music for a whole lotta years and now she is with the help of- well me and my companies creative and marketing dept. We are launching the book next month and we have already pre-sold to many stores. Your so right- there is simply no reason to not do it. GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!

  • Grace

    That’s great, Pam! Thanks for sharing. <3