Every part of the journey is yours. Even the parts you did not want.

After attending my first writers’ conference, I came away inspired, and with a bucketload of great ideas! Of course, I won’t post the content of anyone’s actual presentation, as that’s not mine to share. However, I hope you benefit from these thoughts on what I learned, and some ideas on how I plan to apply them in my own journey. This is the tenth in a series of posts on lessons learned from the SCBWI Northern Ohio 2017 Conference.

Lesson 10: “It’s not about what happens to you. It’s about what you do with what happens to you.”

The closing session was a lovely talk by Jill Santopolo (@jillsantopolo) that she’d titled, “Off the Beaten Path.” She told the story of expectation and heartbreak, discovery and hope that got her to where she is today. She told us that it wasn’t what she planned, but  revealed that she’s had some amazing opportunities because of the journey she has taken.

By now, you may have noticed a theme appearing throughout these posts: the whole conference was about the individual writer’s journey. This session reinforced the same messages I’d been hearing throughout the day. “Don’t worry about anyone else’s career. Don’t worry about artificial timelines. Follow your heart.”

No matter where your road takes you, it’s not a detour. It’s all part of the journey.

But my favorite part of the presentation was Jill Santopolo’s final piece of advice, given in three parts:

  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Write every day if you can.
  • Write the story that only you can write.

It’s so easy to get down on yourself on the days when your story doesn’t feel good enough. Or the days when the time you spend moving words from your head to the page feels wasted. These last three sentences struck a chord with me because I’m not always kind to myself, and that sometimes gets in the way of me writing.

Result: Jill Santopolo helped me give myself permission to write my story without thinking about whether it’s ‘good enough.’ Just the act of writing is worth doing, if only to feed my inner creative spirit.

I’ll keep you posted as I make progress. In the meantime, please share ways you’ve found to be kind to yourself and what keeps you going.

Happy writing!

Photo of sign by Annie Spratt on Unsplash
Photo of train journey by Jayakumar Ananthan on Unsplash

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