This past weekend I had the privilege of attending Breathe Christian Writers Conference held at Grand Rapids Theological Seminary on the campus of Cornerstone University (where I attended college!). It was seemingly by chance that I heard about the conference only a couple of weeks before it was set to happen. It took me almost a day to muster up the courage to even ask my husband about it but once I did, he was completely supportive. With only a few days to spare before registration closed, I took the plunge and signed up.
Here is my story of how I decided to attend a writing conference and why I am glad I did….
Unable to Write
Before attending Breathe, I had lost the motivation to write because I found myself trapped in a fog. It’s like I no longer knew how to allow myself to write as I tried to sort through some bumps on the road of life. Over time, writing had become more of a chore than an outlet. Many days, my only victory has been simply getting out of bed in the morning so trying to add in one more responsibility is often too overwhelming.
As a result, I struggled with the ability to sit down and let my pen or keyboard put meaningful words to the page. Day in and day out, I beat myself up over why I was having such a hard time. It’s not like I have a catastrophic life event to explain away my struggles. It’s just one little thing after another, amounting to heightened stress, anxiety, depression and a lingering question about why I feel so physically awful. Add in the doubt that anyone would understand and I was in quite the predicament with myself.
I wanted to write but I didn’t feel like a writer. After all, I was no longer writing. However, that would soon change.
Learning to Love Writing Again
About a month ago, I began seeing a counselor who encouraged me to start a new journal. It was through the experience of finding and writing in this journal that I have been inspired to pick up my pen and learn to love writing once more. Recently, I posted a photo of the journal on Facebook and Instagram with a caption of how it has reminded me of why I like to write. I hope to go into more detail about my journal and the story of how it came be but I will leave that for another day.
It was only a few days after making my journal when I heard about Breathe. I couldn’t shake the feeling that finding out about the conference at the same time I started to love writing again was not a coincidence. I felt inadequate and unsure of myself but I knew that God was orchestrating something and I needed to listen.
Before I knew it, conference day was here and I was on my way to Grand Rapids. Upon arriving, I saw people milling about, people who in some way identified themselves as writers. I pushed back the voices telling me I didn’t belong and headed to get signed in. I also tried to remind myself that I was here for a reason so I spent the next two days soaking in all I could.
What I Learned at Breathe
Over the course of two days, I gained invaluable insight into the world of writing. I learned about writing strategies, book publishing, author support groups, blogging and building a platform. I was encouraged to follow my heart and be who I am. I even learned a thing or two about myself.
Maybe the fact that I am an introvert who longs for intimate relationships isn’t so weird after all. Maybe my tendency to over analyze and spend hours doing random research is just a part of who I am. Maybe it is okay to see the world through a different lens. I often feel misunderstood and alone but being surrounded by people united in the fact that they feel a call to write made me feel a sense of belonging like I have never felt.
Maybe I am a writer.
You would think since I was at a writers conference that I already identified myself as a writer but truthfully I wasn’t so sure. I had no doubt that I liked to write but until now I lacked the confidence to call myself a writer because I didn’t think I was good enough.
I am finally beginning to understand that writing is a skill that could always use improvement. I don’t consider myself to be the best writer but I do know this: I don’t have to have a published book, a well known blog or be getting paid to write as a profession to call myself a writer.
All it takes to be a writer is to feel the call to write and then do it. If there is one thing I want to take away from Breathe, it is that I AM A WRITER! I can’t say that I gained exponential amounts of confidence over night but a spark of hope was lit in my soul and I may never be the same.