Back before the ICWF Spring WorDshop in 2001, I bought myself a notebook to take to the conference. It went with me to Spring WorDshop the next year and to every Fall Conference since 2001. Its pages are scribbled with notes—some neat, some not so neat; some detailed, others not so detailed. It has dates, speakers, topics. It should be a veritable source of writing information, yet most of the time it remains in my drawer, to be pulled out and added to when conference time comes around again.
As I flip through it, memories flash back upon me.
LaVerne Erickson talked about how dreams impact our writing. He said that dreams don’t just exist in our minds, but in the mind of Christ; when God stops thinking of us, we cease to exist. Marcia Laycock talked about God owning words and lending them to us, and said that God has given each of us a field to write and speak in. Ross MacInnes told us to treat writing as a business; set a schedule and stick to it, have marketing plans, and do what works.
At the second Fall Conference I attended, in 2001, John Moore reminded us that we writers don’t find our identity in writing or ministry, but in Christ. He also told us to make sure that we do something other than write, or we won’t have anything to write about.
Kathleen Gibson said that God created us to be creative, for He is a creative God. Yet creativity is still hard, messy work. And sometimes, our most creative times come after or during dark times. According to Gibson, we were given creativity not only to make the world a better place, but also to impact it with the truth. Sigmund Brouwer also commented on that, saying our first audience is God himself and we’ll never know how many people our writing will touch. So write with your heart and soul; then turn off your computer and become a businessman like MacInnes said.
On and on the advice goes. Some names are familiar, others I barely remember—Carolyn Aarsen, Sheila Sims, Grace Fox, Susan Titus Osborne, Elsie Montgomery, Hugh Cook, Deborah Gyapong, Murray Pura, Larry Willard, Angela Hunt. They each passed on their wisdom, faith, and knowledge to a bunch of writers wanting to learn and grow. I am grateful for the opportunity that I had to hear what they shared. And maybe next time my writing is feeling dry or dull, I’ll take another peek into this little notebook.