Breathe Christian Writers’ Conference 2012: 5 Unexpected Lessons

I attended my first writers’ conference ever at the invitation of my writing accountability partner. She’d been in previous years and wanted to share it with me.

I counted down the days till Breathe 2012 for a whole month. Sending her Facebook messages or note cards in the mail reminding her the date was getting closer.

My excitement stemmed from the fact that we would be immersed in all aspects of writing for two whole days. Surrounded by a community of writers all learning from one another the disciplines and practices of writing. I experienced exactly what I expected.

But to my surprise I learned some lessons I hadn’t counted on. Five key takeaways that will liberate me on my writing journey. Some of these may not be new to you but they were refreshing for me to hear.

Lesson 1:  There are NO Rules in Writing

In the session titled:  Finding Your Voice – And Your Story’s presenter, Dave Lambert said, “There are no rules, just tools in a writer’s toolbox.”

You can write whatever you want whether it conforms to accepted standards or not. The challenge is doing it well. So if you choose to step outside of the norm, do so with quality and excellence.

For me this means, at least in the early stages I can do whatever I want and then figure out if it works. I can let myself off the hook of following the rules (for now).

Lesson 2:  Self-Publishing Isn’t Bad

A panel of publishing professionals shared that self-publishing has merit. It depends on the author’s goals. If your desire is speed to market, self-publishing may be for you.

They were partial to the traditional publishing route for strength in the editorial process, marketing power, distribution, and capitalization. They acknowledge the limits and challenges e.g. fewer authors published through the traditional paths.

But don’t stress if you choose self-publishing, just ensure you do your due diligence, make wise choices, and focus on quality.

Lesson 3:  Writing Isn’t All About Me

Really? I want it to be. At least right now I do. Please don’t hold this against me. I am working on it.

Here’s what writers need to remember … It’s ALL about the reader. When we sit down to write we should keep in mind what the reader is looking for and deliver it.

As a fiction writer, I liked how Dave Lambert said it, “We put the reader in a fictional-dream.” Whatever we write should keep the reader inside that fictional dream; inside a state of suspended disbelief.

Be careful of mistakes that will waken readers from the dream.

Lesson 4:  Always be Ready to Pitch or Say Yes

Author and keynote speaker, Terry Whalen touched on this thought during his address.

As you build relationships and networks on the writing journey, you never know when an opportunity will present itself.

Be ready to say yes if asked to share your ideas or write a guest blog post or article. Being able to think fast on your feet helps. Exercise your creativity so that you can easily come up with ideas that will solve problems for writers, publishing professionals, editors, etc.

Personally, I keep my writing notebook with me and write down the random. One day it may pay off.

Lesson 5:  Creating a Platform is Important

Okay, so this really isn’t new to me but I had an epiphany.

I’m not in a hurry. I don’t need to stress out about this important thing. Instead I have the opportunity to let my platform evolve as my writing evolves.

As I find focus for my blog beyond practicing writing and once I figure out how I want my writing to serve others, than I can work diligently on building my platform. It doesn’t have to make me grey (greyer).

Don’t misunderstand me. It’s important and every writer should do it. But it takes time to build so go at the pace that works with your writing goals.

Hopefully, the lessons I didn’t expect to learn are helpful to you.

A writing conference is a great place to meet and connect with other writers. It’s also a wonderful way to learn tips and tricks that can immediately enhance your writing.

If you’re open to suggestions, I would recommend you find a conference to attend. Trust me the experience it worth it. If you’re unsure about where to go then conduct a Google search. And there’s always the option of attending Breathe next year. Save the dates:  October 18 & 19, 2013. You can make the trek to Michigan and see some burning bushes for yourself.

Tell me your writing conference experiences or events you think every writer should attend. I would love to hear them.

Also, stay tuned for a second post on my Breathe experience.


  1. I am so glad that Breathe was a great experience for you! I look forward to seeing you next year!

  2. I’ve bookmarked this so I can find it again (I’m directionally and verbally challenged). I learned some stuff here too – thanks for sharing this!

  3. This is so cool. I would love to attend a workshop like this. Can’t wait to read more!

  4. Phil Hanson says:

    Sounds like a very worthwhile weekend! Good or you.


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