There’s nothing like sitting in a room of 300 people who want exactly the same thing you do…to make a difference through writing.
This last weekend I attended Jeff Goins’ Tribe Writers Conference in Franklin, Tennessee. Since joining the Tribe Writers online workshop in May of 2017, attending the conference has been a dream of mine.
How was the conference? In one word, AMAZING! So many great speakers, so many awesome people, and so much encouragement. I’m glad that I went and I’ve already purchased my ticket for next year.
After combing through my session notes, these are the four biggest takeaways for me. If you attended the conference I would love to hear yours. If you didn’t get a chance to go, I hope they will be helpful for you too.
Takeaway #1: Tell yourself the right stories
What’s that mean? It means the road to being a successful writer starts by believing that you can be a successful writer. You have to say it out loud, “I am a writer, I am a writer.” It’s like a mantra. The more you say it, the more you believe it. The more you believe it, the more it comes true.
Believe me, there’s no shortage of self-doubt on the pathway to your first book or blog. I experienced that first-hand when I first started to write. If I had a bad day writing I would think, Well, maybe everyone was right. Maybe I’m not a writer. By the way, it’s not like everyone was saying that, it was me saying that to myself!
Jeff Goins reminded us that we must tell ourselves the right kind of stories because there is power in words. There’s power in the words you write, and power in the words you speak–even in the words you speak to yourself. So say it with me, “I am a writer, I am a writer.”
Now, go write.
Takeaway #2: Your impact increases when you care for your audience
This was the biggest takeaway for me. It’s important to write with a purpose, and there is no better purpose than to help others. Seriously, if your goal is not to enrich the lives of people than why even consider publishing? After all, writing for yourself has a name, it’s called journaling.
When you write with love for your audience it shows. Jeff Goins and his team proved that at the conference. What most novice writers need are support and encouragement and the Tribe Conference speakers focused on that need. Charles Lee (Ideation Podcast) reminded us that branding is about way more than logos and colors. It’s about giving your audience/customers a sense of how you want to help them. Most successful writers have tapped into this truth, even those who write fiction.
Now, I am actively asking my readers what kinds of topics and articles would be helpful to them. I’m hoping to show that I care about what they care about. I have put together a survey of spiritual topics where I believe my perspective will be helpful.
Takeaway #3: What stops your art is inside of you
We would all like to blame someone or something for our lack of productivity, but with very few exceptions you can find the culprit in a mirror. If telling ourselves the right stories will help us succeed, then the opposite must also be true. However, it’s more than just negative stories that can stop us from producing our art. At the heart of the problem is fear. We’re afraid of failure and success simultaneously. While the thought of failure is frightening, the prospect of success creates an expectation too. Will will be able to live up to our own success the second time around?
Tim Grahl, the author of Running Down A Dream: Your Road Map To Winning Creative Battles gave a phenomenal talk about the role of fear in our artistic lives. He encouraged us to embrace it, deal with it, harness it even. He said, “fear is a sign that we are doing something right.”Fear is a sign that we are doing something rightClick To Tweet
In the end, it’s a matter of changing our perspective on fear and discouragement. We don’t allow it to control us, but we do acknowledge it as a part of our humanness. As a matter of fact, sometimes our fears come to us disguised as wisdom. When they do we can talk ourselves out of a goal that seems too difficult. Instead of feeling like a quitter, we feel smart to play it safe. It’s nothing more than giving up on our artistic dreams because we have inflated the consequences of failure.
Takeaway #4: There is no easy road
Writing is hard. It’s supposed to be. Writing is the act of creating ex nihilo–out of nothing. It’s not like a writer starts with a jumble of words with the intent to arrange them into well-formed series of paragraphs. No, the writer stares at a blank screen or a new pad of paper and then writes. First words, then sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and finally, a book. It’s a painful process.
Alli Worthington, the best-selling author of Fierce Faith: A Woman's Guide to Fighting Fear, Wrestling Worry, and Overcoming Anxiety, shared her four key steps to success: Show Up, Be Real, Love Others, and Don’t Quit. Showing up is the first step for any writer hoping to find success. You have to sit down and write–when you don’t feel like it, when you’re tired, when you’re blocked, and when you're discouraged.
Writing hurts. Like exercise, you don’t love life when you’re on the treadmill but you’re glad that you got through it. More than anything, you can’t quit. When I first started writing almost eight years ago I quit. Twice. It was the Tribe Writers online cohort that encouraged me and kept me moving forward. I’m so glad they did. This year I self-published my first book ever, Flannel-Graph Jesus: More Than A One-Dimensional Savior. It was a huge step for me and I couldn’t have done it without the support of my new Tribe friends, so many of whom were at the conference.
So, how are you doing in your art? Even more, how are you doing in general? All of these principles apply to writing but they also apply to other areas of life too. If you’re struggling, remember to tell yourself the right stories. You are a writer, or a painter, or a great mom, a great dad, an inspiring boss, a phenomenal student, and so on. Tell yourself good stories.
Remember to serve your audience and put other people's needs first. Ask the question, “how can I add value to someone else’s life?” and then go do it. Embrace fear by realizing it’s natural to worry about the mistakes or failure. Lastly, remember there’s no easy road. Someone once said, “the right thing to do and the hard thing are usually the same thing.” Show up, be real, love others, and don’t quit.