I’m still digesting the massive amount of material and inspiration I absorbed at the Relevant Conference last weekend. Here are my Top 19 Lessons — some deep…some not.
Lessons On Writing and Blogging:
1. Serve the people who come to your table. As a writer, you are a hostess and you have people ringing your doorbell, hungry for your words. Rather than being concerned with the people who aren’t coming to your table, serve the ones you already have. They are coming to your place for a reason, so feed them. (Emily Freeman, Chatting at the Sky).
2. Tell the honest story and how God has met you in your own story. The goal of writing your story is worship – you want the reader to worship God through hearing your story. (Shelley Noonan, B’Twixt & B’Tween).
3. Be discerning and wise in your writing. Ask yourself this: what is truly beneficial to readers and what is simply serving as a platform for yourself? (Dr. Juli Slattery, @DrJuliSlattery).
4. Don’t let comparison steal your joy – don’t let it steal the unique gifts that God has given you. Follow God’s lead, for he has given you a unique story. Will you use it for his glory? Be God’s you. (Joy Forney, Grace Full Mama).
5. God chooses normal people to be world-changers – normal people who have a heart for God. Your story is the best opportunity to minister to someone who needs your story (Sally Clarkson, I Take Joy).
6. Have you told your own story of what God has done for you? Is your blog for the voice of God or is it an idol for you? Am I being a platform-builder or a kingdom builder? Am I writing to get love or to give love? (Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience).
Lessons On Social Media:
7. If social media stops being fun for you, walk away from it for a while (Lisa-Jo Baker, The Gypsy Mama).
8. When using social media, listen as much – if not more – than you speak. Don’t just broadcast your own stuff; participate in conversation. The only currency that matters in social media is relationships. (Lisa-Jo Baker, The Gypsy Mama).
9. Self-publishing (i.e. e-books) is not a way to get rich, but to enrich other people (Sarah Mae, Like a Warm Cup of Coffee).
The “I Probably Should Have Thought of That” Lessons:
10. Disregard the inevitable “flight” response that comes when facing a room of 225 strangers who all seem like they know one another. Breathe deeply, grip purse tightly, smile broadly and don’t run away to dive beneath duvet in hotel room.
11. Bring a laptop to a writing/blogging conference. For some, this would be a given. Me? Not so much. A laptop is especially helpful when your agent texts in the middle of a session that she needs you to email her your manuscript ASAP. [commence sweating and frantic phone calls to husband].
12. Bring business cards. Lots and lots of business cards. When conversation lags awkwardly, ask fellow conferencemate where she blogs – this will incite everyone at the table to dig into their purses and hand around cards, which will prompt conversation again.
13. Wine helps. Cheese and crackers and grapes and ginger snaps help, too (thanks Nancy Franson).
14. The smallest suitcase is not necessarily the wisest choice (think mega-swag).
The “I Never Expected That” Lessons:
15. Wonderfully zany online friends are even more wonderfully zany in person. Big God-hearted friends online are even more big God-hearted in person. Encouraging, supportive, generous friends online are even more encouraging, supportive and generous in person.
16. It’s possible to become totally smitten with a woman who three days prior had been a complete stranger. [Kristen Strong you are the bomb!].
17. Not crying during worship or keynote speeches does not automatically mean you do not love God or that your faith is not real or that you are an emotionally vapid person. God knows you are not a crier, and he’s cool with that.
18. Four airports, four flights, many hours of delays and layovers and hundreds of miles in a minivan do not necessarily spell disaster, especially when you are given the gift of new friendship and much laughter (fistbump to @SallyHaukas).
19. That we’d still have plenty to talk about and we wouldn’t nearly be sick of each other after a three-day conference and a 14-hour travel day. Now that’s a good friend!
So there you have it. Relevant knocked some sense into me and helped me get my priorities straight regarding why I write, who I write for and what purpose all this online-social media insanity should serve. In a word, Relevant was…relevant.
Photo: Abby Alleman and me. This is the one and only photo I took at Relevant, and I know I’m all creepy cockamamie-eyed (I swear my eyes are two different sizes, but I only notice it in photos – weird!), but I had to use it here because along with her gorgeous smile, Abby has a gorgerous heart for God, and I want you to get to know her! She and her family are moving to Hungary soon to serve as missionaries there!).