Jenny, Donna, Piper, Me, & Kristen

This past weekend I attended the DFW Writer’s Conference and had a ball! The workshops were fab, the keynote speaker James Rollins was a gem, and I met some ladies who I just know will be dear friends for years to come.

But what did I learn from all this fabulousness?

A lot. Here’s my Top Five Bits of Wisdom from DFWCon: 

1. Give yourself permission to fail. Bestselling author Candace Havens stressed this fact over and over again in her Fast Draft class. Can’t wait to take her class, by the way. The only way we can get to the good stuff is if we allow ourselves to create crappy stuff first which means, turning off our internal editor. You know, the little voice in our head that likes to tell us we’re a horrible writer and shouts nothing but negative banter at us? Yeah… that one. But by giving ourselves permission to write crap, we free ourselves up to bring forth the real treasure that lies within.

2. You never stop learning. New York Times bestselling author James Rollins revealed that he still refers to craft books when writing his novels. I was floored when I heard him say that. I think we sometimes have this idea that published authors have arrived and clearly must know it all. But as Rollins pointed out, we never stop learning. This means maintaining humility and openness even as our careers soar to greater heights.

3. Always write from a point of passion. Another stellar bit of advice made by Rollins. We have to be passionate  about what we’re writing/creating. And I can attest to that. Whenever I try to write about something I’m not that vested in, it’s nothing but an uphill battle. So art must come from the heart.

4. Rejection is par for the course. With his first book, Rollins was rejected 49 times by agents before he finally heard a yes. 49 times! So it’s important to never get discouraged. Keep learning. Keep writing. Keep submitting. Because perseverance is the name of the game.

5. Now is the best time to be a writer. Or any creative professional for that matter. The Internet and social media have given us endless opportunities to express our art and find a much wider audience more quickly than ever before. Social media expert Kristen Lamb, who also taught at the conference, has been preaching this for quite some time. Read her post The Age of the Artist — Time for a Revolution and get inspired. Vive la révolution!

So what lessons have you learned through the years as a writer/creator? What advice did you hear that encouraged you along your journey?