Advice from Donita K. Paul

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Often a conference is not what you expect it to be. You come for great classes and in addition to learning more about your craft, you forge lifelong friendships. You come to meet an editor and instead have God whisper in your ear an important essential to your Christian walk that you’ve been missing. You come to get away from the house, your kids, your job, and maybe, your mother-in-law, and you leave ready to invest the spiritual refreshment you’ve received into the lives of others, including your mother-in-law.

Yes, you should have a concept of what you want to gain from your attendance of an ACFW conference, but remember, that God probably has even better things in store for you.

Here’s a little piece I wrote for Mary De Muth’s blog:

Prioritize. At different stages of my career, I have gone to conferences for different reasons. There are three major areas to consider. Advancement in Skill, Advancement in Career, Renewal.

You cannot deal with advancement in career until you have concentrated on advancement in skill. Make refining your craft your first priority when you first attend conferences. When your product (your writing) is up to industry standards, then move advancement of career up to the top. This will include networking with editors and agents, but also those classes that teach you how to market.

So this is what your priorities might look like:

First conference:
1. Skill
2. Renewal
3. Career
Third Conference:
1. Skill
2. Career
3. Renewal
Second Conference:
1. Skill
2. Renewal
3. Career
Fourth Conference
1. Career
2. Skill
3. Renewal

The interesting thing about renewal is that it will move around as if it had a will of its own. You go to a conference expecting to advance your career, and God shows up to renew your spirit in magnificent ways. Sometimes you find you learned a great deal to increase your effectiveness as a writer, but God also poured over your heart a blessing through new and old friendships.

Renewal is the main reason I go to conferences now. I am always working on my craft, but to see old friends, mentor new writers, worship together with other Christian authors strengthens me.

Donita K. Paul

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