Friday, March 23, 2018

Don’t Be Surprised by Post Writing Conference Let Down

by Lori Hatcher @LoriHatcher2

It’s conference season. All over the country writers flock to writers conferences, hoping to learn secrets of the craft, pitch a new idea, and connect with fellow wordsmiths. Conferences can be both exhilarating and frightening.

Even the best conference experience, however, can leave you feeling let down. Let’s examine a few reasons why you might feel discouraged or depressed in the days following a really good writers conference.

Reasons Why
1. Because it’s hard to come down off the mountain.
At conferences we’re surrounded by fabulous teaching, inspiring worship, and encouraging feedback. Serious writers want to drink from the instructional well forever. There’s so much to learn and so little time. We don’t ever want it to end. We know that when the door closes on the final workshop, we’ll have to re-enter the real world, and the real world is nothing like our mountain top experience. It’s hard to transition from the lofty heights of writers’ heaven to the ground level sod of our mortal existence.

2. Because you enjoyed connecting with other writers.
Where else can you find writing soul mates everywhere you turn? That lady in line in front of you? She gets that you write best in your pajamas while eating chocolate-covered pomegranate seeds after midnight. That guy in the non-fiction workshop? He also wants to write books to help teens find meaning and purpose. And that agent? He’s spent his entire career looking for a writer just like you to represent. Unlike your family, who thinks you’re gifted but a little strange, or your co-workers who tease you about your ostentatious vocabulary, these people GET you. After days of fellowshipping with your long lost brothers and sisters, it’s hard to go back to being a literary orphan.

3. Because now you have work to do.
I leave every writers conference I attend (even the ones where I serve on faculty) with a To Do list. Spruce up that blog. Try a different social media strategy. Submit my article to the editor who asked for it. Applying what I’ve learned means hours of writing, editing, and rewriting. It means following up on potential leads, writing thank you notes (you do take time to thank those who helped you, don’t you?), and sorting through your handouts to mine the gems. Sitting in class, even if our mind is engaged and our fingers are taking notes, is passive. Applying what we’ve learned to our current WIP is work. And work is hard.

4. Because you realized that the writing life is a journey, not a destination.
You may have arrived at the conference convinced your WIP was ready to launch, only to find out it still needs work. You may have hoped to secure an agent or publisher, but didn’t. You may have dreamed of winning a contest or award, but the plaques went to better writers. It’s a rare individual who can celebrate wholeheartedly for the winners without being discouraged or disappointment.

So what do we do when we find ourselves discouraged after a writers conference? 

Here are three tips:
1. Rest. Discouragement, depression, and lack of motivation are often byproducts of fatigue. Because writers conferences are mentally and physically draining, the lack of rest, late hours, and over-the-top social interaction can tire even the most energetic person. In the days following a conference, be sure to get a few hours of extra sleep before tackling your To Do list.

2. Pray. Just because you learned a hundred different things to apply to your writing life doesn’t mean you should implement them all. And just because an editor told you to rewrite a scene or rework a proposal doesn’t mean you should. Ask God to help you discern which suggestions to apply and which to discard or save for later. Pray James 1:5 over your writing decisions.

3. Remember God. As Christian writers, we hold the pen, but God makes the ink flow. We sow and water, but God gives the increase. Sometimes, in our quest to be good stewards of the writing trust God has given us, we forget that God has invited us to be part of his grand plan, instead of the other way around. Remembering that he who began a good work in us will be faithful to complete it (Phil. 1:6), helps us release the final results to God, knowing we can trust him to accomplish his good purposes for our writing life.

So the next time you attend a writers conference, don’t be surprised by post-conference let down. Understand the causes, have a strategy to deal with it, and allow it to make you an even better writer than before.

Now it’s your turn. Have you ever experienced post-conference let down? What did you do to overcome it?


Lori Hatcher is the editor of Reach Out, Columbia magazine and the author of the 2016 Christian Small Publisher Book of the year, Hungry for God … Starving for Time, Five-Minute Devotions for Busy Women. A blogger, writing instructor, and inspirational speaker, her goal is to help women connect with God in the craziness of life You’ll find her pondering the marvelous and the mundane on her blog, Hungry for God. . . Starving for Time . Connect with her on Facebook, Twitter (@LoriHatcher2), or Pinterest (Hungry for God).


  1. Thanks Ms. Lori. Both wise and wonderful. When I return from a writer's conference or my critique group I am often energized by what I've learned and can approach my craft with new tools in my toolbox. Then the "real world" arrives and I have to remind myself that it's in the valleys I grow. God's blessings for this timely and valuable lesson.

    1. " the valleys I grow" -- So true on so many levels, Jim.

  2. Oh yes, Jim, you have captured the struggle well in your description. It’s real! This is why we need others to encourage us to press on. Blessings to you as you write for Him!

  3. Lori, post conference is so anticlimactic. I anticipate, get nervous, dream. Then the conference is constant go-go-go with so many people to meet and too much information to absorb. Even the drive/flight home keeps my mind busy as I process. And then...the seemingly endless flow of energy and excitement ends. Your tips are much appreciated.

    1. Oh yes, Karen, you have described it perfectly. The heights of heaven and the slough of despond. Thankfully, time, rest, and intentionality can quickly restore our perspective.

  4. Well said Lori! I enjoyed our time together. When I get home from a conference, all catching up is done among my pillows. A weary body and mind needs rest.

    1. And you, Maureen, are very wise. I, too, can always process information (and emotion) better when I’m well-rested. It is always a treat to put our heads together at a conference. Hope to connect again soon!