Some thoughts on JOT: The GR Writers Mini-Conference

WE DID IT!

That’s my first big thought after Jot. The Weaklings (my writers group of five or more years) put on a successful “mini writers conference” last weekend. But how do we measure success in an event like this? And were there any surprises? I’ll try to answer these two questions in the rest of the post.

What surprised me at Jot:

  • The attendance. – We had 58 people sign up before we started and others trickled in as we got going! The meeting space was packed. It was just the right size group. I was able to at least say hello to most people that came and have many meaningful conversations with others. I was thrilled that so many people wanted to come hear our presentations. If you were one of those people – Thank you for coming!
  • A recurring question: “How do I find a writers group?” – I keep getting asked this question and I don’t have a good answer for it. My writers group started because we were friends. Josh, Bob, and I were all active readers asking ourselves the question, “I wonder if I could write too?” Then Matt came along (he was already a writer) and basically said, “Yes you can. Let’s get organized.” Boom. The Weaklings were born. (If you want the full story read Josh’s post about the Weaklings.) But none of this really answers the above question. The best I’ve been able to tell people is, “Find other like-minded writers and just start taking it seriously.” I’m not satisfied with that. I’m going to keep pondering this question. Stay tuned.
  • Representing a publisher. – This might sound stupid, but at writers conferences I often forget that I represent a publisher. When I’m in these settings I think of myself as just another writer in the group. Seriously. (Again, this might sound really dumb, but I’m being honest.) So I’m always surprised by some of the questions I get asked. At Jot I got to answer a number of questions about publishing, and about my workplace, Zondervan. It was fun. I think too often publishers seem like some sort of mysterious club to writers. I enjoy just talking straight with people and try to clear away the fog around publishing.

What made Jot successful.

  • Meeting other writers. – More than anything else, this is what I personally hoped to achieve with Jot. I wanted to make friends with other writers in the Grand Rapids area. In this regard, Jot was a huge success. I shook hands with lots of new people. I learned about what other people are writing. I also (hopefully) helped encourage them to keep on writing. I even exchanged emails with a couple of folks.
  • Reconnecting with the writers I already know. – For me, this really important. I’ve said on this blog before that if there’s anything I’ve learned about writing over the last few years it’s that writing cannot be done alone. The encouragement from the other guys in the Weaklings has propelled me forward to seeing a good number of publications. My network of friends in the writing community are inspiring me even further. At Jot I got to see friends from the Breathe Conference, the Guild (those two groups have some overlap, but they are not actually the same), friends from Zondervan, from Baker, from Cornerstone University (my Alma mater), and lots of other familiar faces.
  • I kept my talk within the 15 minute time frame. – In my pre-Jot post I mentioned that I’m long-winded. Well, the gods of public speaking smiled on me at Jot and I was able to keep my talk from stretching into an epic oration.
  • The other Weaklings gave awesome presentations. – Seriously. I’m super proud of my writing brothers Matt, Bob, and Josh. I learned something from all of them. I actually wished I had taken notes. I was too busy thinking about running the event that I forgot to let some of the content really soak in. If you missed their presentations, you can see a video of the event here. I plan on re-watching all of their presentations.

That’s all for now. I’ll post my iPhone pics from Jot tomorrow. If you attended – Thank you!

-AR

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4 thoughts on “Some thoughts on JOT: The GR Writers Mini-Conference

  1. Pingback: Reflections on the fourth Jot Conference | Tell Better Stories

  2. Pingback: Reflections on the fourth Jot Conference | Tell Better Stories

  3. Pingback: Thoughts on the Sixth Jot Writers Conference | Tell Better Stories

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