I’m surprised to say that some of the best career advice I ever got didn’t come from a career center but a writer’s conference.
Last week was a week of a lot of “firsts,” tons of new experiences, learning, and growth. I was stretched like never before, tested in my faith, and doubting whether I would come out of the other side stronger. Any guesses as to where I was?
A writer’s conference, specifically Realm Makers 2020, which is a conference dedicated specifically to Christian writers of fantasy and science fiction. Being my first conference, I wasn’t sure what to expect, so I went in with the idea that I would be a sponge and soak up all of the information that I could get.
I’m glad that was my mentality because some of the best career advice I ever got came from this writer’s conference. Just in case you’re not planning to go to a writer’s conference anytime soon, it’s my pleasure to share that career advice and life advice with you now.
Writer or not, these lessons learned will encourage you in your career, your faith, and your life.
The Best Career Advice I Got From a Writer’s Conference
1. Even successful people doubt themselves.
Over the course of the weekend, I attended workshops, panels, and classes about writing taught by authors and editors well-known in the fantasy genre. As a writer of fantasy, these are all authors that I aspire to be and hope to be like 5-10 years from now.
So imagine my surprise to hear these authors voice their doubts about their own writing despite their successes. To think that they also submit a piece of writing and are filled with anxiety and fear that this time their writing won’t be good enough. To think that they could have a thousand 5-star reviews on Amazon and GoodReads, and yet all they think about at the end of the night is the lone one-star review.
I appreciate that the authors and editors were willing to share their true feelings with a group of 300 people they just met virtually. Because some of the best career advice I ever got was that no amount of career progression will make feelings of doubt or insecurity go away.
Even people at the top doubt themselves, and no amount of external validation will overcome that fear and insecurity . At the end of the day, we all need to remember who we are and that our worth is not in what we do or what we accomplish–it’s in Christ and who He says we are.
2. Having a career is a journey.
As someone who works through problems and tasks with detailed checklists, it’s easy for me to think of certain parts of my life as checklists also. Particularly in writing, I always figured that I would reach a point in my writing career where I could, in a sense, “check it off” my list.
However, even the published authors and award winners are still learning, still growing, and still working to improve their craft. I realized that when it comes to career aspirations, I may have a goal of where I want to be in 5 or 10 years, but once I achieve that, it doesn’t stop there.
A career in writing or in corporate or in academia or wherever you are right now is really a journey where you will constantly learn and grow.
So the best career advice I ever got was you won’t ever just “get there” and stop or check it off the list. Allow yourself to keep learning and keep growing.
Instead of only focusing on the prize, open up yourself to the stage you’re in right now. How can you learn more where you are now? How can you be the best writer/ consultant/ teacher/ student/ professional where you are now?
3. In your career, God wants you to be you.
Who do you think God wants you to be?
Honestly. Think about the individuals that you look up to in your life or career. Are you trying to emulate them?
Steven James, one of the instructors at the conference, used an illustration that really stuck with me and drove home this third piece of career advice. Think about your arrival in heaven and having to give an account for how you spent your time on earth. What do you think God will ask you? How do you think he will respond to what you say?
This instructor reminded us all that God will not ask us something like, “Kara, why weren’t you more like Jenny B. Jones?” (My favorite author)
“Why didn’t you write a Christian cozy mystery series and indie publish your work?”
God won’t ask me, “Kara, why weren’t you like this person at your university, who went into the Peace Corps and helped impoverished communities for two years?”
Created to be Me
No, you see God created me. He created me as me. God placed certain desires in my heart. He has directed my steps. When I wrote my college thesis senior year, the story that he gave me was BLUE EYES, a contemporary fantasy–not a cozy mystery series. And when I went to live abroad, he led me to the Fulbright program in Andorra, not a Peace Corps position.
When I get to heaven and give account of what I’ve done on earth, the question God will ask me is, “Why weren’t you being YOU as I created you to be?”
That’s who I want to stay true to. I need to stop comparing myself to my favorite authors and my former classmates. God doesn’t want me to be another writer or another consultant or another blogger. He created me to be me.
No one else can write your story. No one else can do your job the way that you do. He created us each uniquely for a unique purpose, and He calls us to live out that plan and purpose, not anyone else’s.
Voila! Three pieces of the best career advice I ever got
When I signed up for Realm Makers 2020, I honestly didn’t know what to expect. But the wealth of knowledge that I not only learned about writing but my career in general was so valuable.
It pointed me back to God, reassured me that my identity is in Him, and reminded me that He created me uniquely with a unique purpose. Here I was trying to be someone else or write a different story when he had already gifted me with my story, my novel BLUE EYES.
What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever gotten? Where did it come from? How has that piece of advice encouraged you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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