Lessons I learned from Realm Makers 2015

Every time I go to a writing conference, I come away with something new that I’ve learned, but it never ceases to amaze me how MUCH I learn at Realm Makers, not only about the industry of writing and publishing books but about myself as well.

I left Realm Makers 2015 this year with page after page after page of excellent writing and publishing advice, ranging from book contracts, genre theology, what makes a novel irresistible, great advice on writing fight scenes, and practical methods for marketing strategies. So much wonderful information. But beyond that, it was good to be reminded of some important things I’d forgotten about me.

Be yourself

the_amys
My partner in crime Amy Davis and me in costume at the awards banquet

Be honest with yourself and with others about who you are. If you’re a geek, be the best geek you can be. If you’re not, that’s great too. Maybe you like dressing up, and maybe you don’t. Either option is fine. One isn’t better than the other, and, frankly, we all need each other.

God made you to be who you are–exactly the way you are–so don’t do yourself or the world a disservice by trying to be someone else.

You always have something to learn

Realm Makers attendees dressed up as Strider, Wolverine, and a Star Trek RedShirt
Realm Makers attendees dressed up as Strider, Wolverine, and a Star Trek RedShirt

Nobody knows nothing. That was advice I got at a different conference years ago, but it still rings true. Even the best experts in the world still learn something new every day. If you’re a truly wise person, you’ll never stop learning. So don’t be ashamed to admit you don’t know something. Tell the world and then be thankful you have the opportunity to learn from someone who does know.

And if you are the one in the teaching position, don’t be shocked if someone else doesn’t know what you know. You’ve had a different life than they have. You’ve learned different things. God’s given you different experiences. But instead of feeling superior, just be glad that God’s given you the chance to share what you’ve learned.

Never underestimate the value of a kind word

The amazing Jeff Gerke dressed as Luke Skywalker teaching at Realm Makers
The amazing Jeff Gerke dressed as Luke Skywalker teaching at Realm Makers

Kindness is so underrated in our society. I really think people assume that if you’re kind, that means you’re weak, but nothing is farther from the truth. Kindness takes far more strength than cruelty.

Being kind to someone else (especially when they haven’t given you a reason to do so) is a true mark of a Christ-follower and is a sign of massive strength.

Confidence isn’t the same as arrogance

The incredible Kirk DuPonce with his Parable Award winning book cover (for which he modeled)
The incredible Kirk DuPonce with his Parable Award winning book cover (for which he modeled)

It’s okay to be bold. That can be hard for an introvert (like a writer) to accept, but it’s true. Being bold doesn’t automatically make you obnoxious. It just means you know what you’re talking about. And you can know what you’re talking about and share it without being arrogant. It’s all in how you treat people.

Your story isn’t for everyone, and that’s okay

Random assortment of awesome steampunk people
Random assortment of awesome steampunk people

You’ve got your own story that you’re writing or living, and the choices you’ve made aren’t the same choices that someone else might have made, if they’d been in your shoes. And you know what? That’s fine. It’s more than fine. That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

If we all made the same choices and we all thought exactly the same, how boring would the world be? We are all entitled to our opinions, and just because you disagree with someone doesn’t mean they’re a villain, just like it doesn’t make you a hero. We’re all just people doing the best we can.

You can build friendships online, but nothing beats a real hug

Two wonderful ladies, Teddi Deppner and Morgan Busse, who I adore and think the world of
Two wonderful ladies, Teddi Deppner and Morgan Busse, who I adore and think the world of

I like social media and email and texting. I’m not good at talking on the phone, so I much prefer to communicate with the written word. And while I do think it’s possible to get to know someone online, being in the same room with them will tell you so much more than a Facebook status ever will.

God made us to need each other. Even if you’re the most introverted of the introverts, you still need people around. You can’t always see yourself or what you think you need, so you need friends who know you. And cyberhugs are nice thoughts, but come on. There’s nothing better than a big squishy bear hug that makes your ribs creak.

You don’t appreciate a good cup of coffee until the pot is empty

The Killer Rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (she has sharp pointy teeth!)
The Killer Rabbit from Monty Python and the Holy Grail (she has sharp pointy teeth!)

This one’s a no-brainer. When the coffee pot is empty, even if it’s not the greatest coffee in the world, there is usually groaning and gnashing of teeth.

So even if the coffee you’re drinking desperately needs more coffee, be thankful for it while you’ve got it.

So ends another year of Realm Makers….

We renewed friendships, forged new ones, and spent far too much time laughing and making Star Wars jokes. It was possibly the best, most encouraging weekend I’ve had since Realm Makers last year.

As a writer, it’s easy to bury yourself in your characters. That probably makes me sound crazy, but when you write, you have to experience what your characters experience. You have to live their lives, and sometimes it’s easy to lose yourself in the midst of all the other voices. It’s really no different from when a non-writer is too busy or is too much of a people pleaser.

You can get lost in the noise, and it’s important to take the time to slow down and remember who you are and what God has created you to do.

A.C. Williams

Amy Williams left a lucrative career in marketing to write novels about space cowboys, clumsy church secretaries, American samurai, and alternate dimensions. Along the way, she also discovered a passion for teaching other creative professionals how to use technology to make life easier. Through video instruction or one-on-one coaching, she teaches software, blogging, basic graphic design, and many other useful skills that help creative entrepreneurs get stuff done minus the frustration.

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  1. This was so lovely and I completely agree with every piece of advice. I’ll definitely pass this post on to my friends who will be going next year. <3

    1. Thank you so much! Wasn’t it a great conference this year? Best yet!

      1. It was absolutely AMAZING. It was actually my first conference, and I’m pretty sure it was a great conference to go to for my first one. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Morgan. It was so good to see you, friend. Hugs!

    1. I hear you! Me too!!

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