This post is meant to encourage those who can't quite feel comfortable calling themselves writers yet. The ones who would like to write a book, or even a collection of short stories or poetry, but haven't yet penned one word of it. They've just been thinking about it.
Where to start then? Find a good writer's critique group and attend a writers conference. And don't be afraid to begin that first chapter.
Why should you go to a writers' conference? I'll let my good friend Debbie Wong explain it to you with her own experience.
MY FIRST WRITERS' CONFERENCE
I was single, a computer programmer and never published. Why was I attending a Christian writers' conference? Well, I wanted to write. I felt a nudge from God to write. This conference seemed like a good place to start.
The room buzzed with old friends saying hello and new friends making acquaintances. I didn't know a soul. I found a seat and poured over the schedule for the day. There were teaching tracks for fiction, nonfiction, devotionals, and screenplays. Since my book idea fit in the nonfiction category I decided that was the track for me.
So many terms were foreign to me. People lined up to schedule a time to meet with an editor. I didn't know who to meet with or why I would even meet with an editor at this point. I truly felt lost, but I found my way through the morning sessions, then lunch arrived.
The people around my table began introductions based on a written table prompt. Most were published authors. I shared my book idea and that this was my first conference. The other writers, far superior in ability than I, encouraged me, welcomed me and offered helpful suggestions. I didn't feel insignificant. I felt included. I felt that I belonged. I felt like a writer.
I met a woman at that first conference named Bev. She happened to be one of the co-leaders of the event. She had writing credentials to fill a two page resume. One thing she didn't have, computer skills. Submitting writing through email and contacting editors through websites had just begun at that time. I had a book idea and no formal training as a writer but I did have computer skills. Bev and I agreed to meet after the conference to mentor one another. She critiqued my writing and I showed her how to use email and Microsoft Word. We became fast friends as well. At the next year's conference, I taught a class on using the computer for writing.
I now had many published authors as friends. It would be almost ten years before I had the pleasure of joining their ranks. However, I confidently walked into every writers' conference and identified myself as a writer. Publication is wonderful, don't get me wrong, but writers' conferences aren't just for the published. They are for people who share the same passion - the love of writing. We have stories to tell and ideas to share. Sometimes they go no further than the conference. Other times, they are discovered at a conference.
Never shy away from attending a writer's conference. You may gain a new friend. You will be inspired. Your ideas will be shaped and formed and reformed. You will gain skills you didn't have. You will be surrounded by like-minded people who will applaud your efforts. Whether you are new to writing or been at it for years, find the next conference in your area (or take a road trip) and join in. You won't be disappointed. You will be inspired.
www.debbiewong.net or follow her blog at debbiesuewong.wordpress.com.