September 23 | Keynote Address
Go write the story of your heart. Go write about your Father’s love.
In her Friday keynote address, Tracie Peterson (right) encouraged ACFW members to make connections to God, to the industry, to other writers, and to the reason they write.
“You cannot have a relationship with someone if you don’t spend time with them,” Peterson said. “Getting to know God and what He’s all about is critical. This spills over into my writing because my walk with God is the foundation and the heart of my writing ministry.
“How can you offer encouragement if you don’t know the Encourager? How can you offer love if you don’t know the One who is love?”
She also stressed connection to the publishing industry, through attendance at conferences and participation in other events.
“The industry is fickle—you will see this in everything you do,” Peterson said. “But it’s important to stay up-to-date with the changes in the industry. You owe it to yourself and your career.
“Connecting to the industry is important because everyone needs support to do his or her best. The emotional side of publishing—hearing that your work is not yet ready or that your story is not sound—requires the development of a thick skin. Friendships with like-minded people can help,” Peterson said.
Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks they are something when they are not, they deceive themselves. Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else. (Galatians 6:2–4, NIV)
Sing the song you’ve been given
“In addition to know who you write for, know why you write, Peterson said.
There’s music inside each of you and you must not let it die.
“There’s music inside each of you and you must not let it die. Sometimes why we write is no more difficult than: We write because we cannot NOT write.”
But she cautioned that if you’re in this business to get rich and famous, you might be in the wrong business. If you examine your life, you’ll find the reason why you write, and knowing that can help you avoid frustration and disappointment.
“I write because I feel called of God to write,” Peterson said. “It’s a ministry. An act of service to God. An obedience to His calling.
Answer the tough question
“When I searched my heart and realized why I write, it changed everything I know about myself as a writer. The discovery was more important to my career than my first contract or holding my first book.”
If your writing is an act of obedience, I want to tell you ‘the pressure’s off.’
Once she declared her writing a ministry for God to use, Peterson had to answer a tough question: Would she still write if she knew that her writing would never be published, she’d never be paid, she’d never get any human recognition?
“Writers long for others to read our work and proclaim it the best they’ve ever seen,” she said. “But, if your writing is an act of obedience, I want to tell you ‘the pressure’s off.’ You don’t have to cry about rejection letters or what people think about your book.
“You can ignore reviews and not worry about royalty checks. You don’t have to feel overwhelmed and sad when you don’t win a contest or fear the publishing future. All you have to do is write. You’re a liberated writer who is free of the heavy chains that limit your creativity.”
Peterson calls the feeling being in her “God groove—where I feel God’s pleasure.”
“You are writers. You are children of the King. Go write the story of your heart. Go write about your Father’s love. Go write.”