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Where Creatives Find Know-How, Community, & Affirmation

Image: Creative Commons
Image: Creative Commons

In this Age of Convenient Information Access and ready-made persona formation, why invest time and money in any training?

It was a warm sunny morning in Taos, New Mexico when I guided fifteen writers through a meditative yoga flow. When I asked them to check in with questions such as, “What am I here for?” and “What am I writing for?” a couple of them got watery eyes.

This group was made up of 15 of writers. That afternoon I was teaching a five-day writing course called “Where It All Begins: Writing, Yoga, & Wonder,” and  I was curious about what these writers from around the United States taking the course were there for.

To attend a conference, after all, means not only that you have to shell out bucks for registration and travel, devote days away from your usual work and family life, and actually schlep to wherever the conference is held.

It also means you might face your greatest insecurities and sit at a table with other bona fide (or not) writers.

So why bother?

Get Know How and Get Connected
You’re crazy if you think you must go through your creative life alone. At Tracking Wonder we firmly adhere to a Do It Together #DIT model of collaboration and community. In most workshop-intensive conferences, you build know-how though collaboration, and that know-how gives you entry into a community of peers with whom you can “talk shop.”

The best conferences allow space for you to forge organic connections. From speakers to more intimate round table sessions, you get opportunities to network or make new friends struggling with similar creative issues.  And the accomplished faculty members and presenters possess both the know how to teach and to create a safe space for all participants. Posturing writers stay at home.

Friendships Forge at Conferences.
I keep in touch with writers I’ve met at conferences from many years ago. We trade stories, publishing tips, as well as small victories & big struggles. Some of them have become long-term clients and solid friends.

One morning over breakfast, essayist and novelist Priscilla Long, who I met at a conference, and I shared our respective writing practice and reflected on our common project-juggling schedules. The conversation felt like a bond.

A useful writing-centered conference or other creative focus can give you a compacted education in know-how – that is, the craft  and the habits of living a creative life. Good training takes away some unnecessary guess work of “What the hell am I doing?”

A Leap of Creative Faith.
A client of mine is attending a week-long writer’s conference. The course he’s taking will do more, I hope, than give him know-how.

Several weeks ago, he took the leap. He’s been working on his novel off and on between his big corporate gigs for about a year. A smart guy, crisp copywriter, quick creative problem-solver, and brilliant story-plotter, his biggest complaint is time.  Amidst tending to his family and his corporate boss’s demands and the international travel and consulting his gigs require, he barely has head space, let alone time, to craft and build his novel.

So, a few weeks ago, he talked himself into quitting one of his long-time secure copywriting gigs. What does he have to lose? A few thousand a month in secure income. And the longevity of his bigger gig is itself tenuous, so he can’t rest on real job security. And he has a little girl and wife at home counting on his income.

But now he has more time, head space, and, potentially, confidence as a writer to gain. So I suggested he attend a writer’s conference.

Such an investment can be a commitment. It’s a commitment that acknowledges your project matters and that it merits attention, money, and time.

Do you invest money and time to give yourself the know-how, the connections & community, and the affirmation that creativity and wonder thrive on?

Here are a few conferences I’ll be attending and presenting at this summer, along with a few others that I highly recommend. 

CampGLP: Jonathan Fields has established a camp for creatives, makers and world shakers that just gets better and richer every year. It’s a real sleep away camp for grownups just outside NYC that provides a space free of judgement and packed with inspiration. People and world class presenters attend from around the globe. Camp GLP offers everything from color wars to talent night to high impact business acumen. This year I’ll be presenting an interactive workshop on Wonder Interventions in Your Work Life.

World Domination Summit –  WDS, founded by Chris Guillibeau, is aimed towards creatives who want to do life differently and work according to passion first, profit second, third, or fourth. The master of non-conformity pulls together TED Talk-style presenters and coordinates numerous location-specific “happenings” throughout Portland, Oregon. You can sign up to be notified about when registration opens. This conference sells out fast and early every year.

Sivananda Ashram Yoga Retreat: In September I’ll head to the Bahamas to teach Wonder on a Creative Quest, a 4 day workshop at an ashram. Here we’ll explore how yoga and a mindset of wonder can shape your life into your spiritual and creative quest. Wonder is a an emotional and spiritual ally in times of change and adversity, and the proper mindset can direct you to the vast realm of possibilities as you explore your creative self.

Knitters Review – Knitters are hip people. They get how craft and weaving and conversation get wound up in one fun and wooly ball. This group keeps weavers apprised of wooly happenings around the globe.

Got a favorite?
Do you invest money and time to give yourself the know-how, the connections & community, and the affirmation that creativity and wonder thrive on? If so, let us know how. And add a favorite conference review to the list.

If a conference isn’t in your future but you’re looking for a collaborative community of creatives and entrepreneurs, I invite you to join our international  Tracking Wonder Quest Community. You’ll gain weekly inspiration, access to special meetups, and opportunities to find allies online and in your region of the planet. Our free community is comprised of professionals, entrepreneurs, creatives, teachers, coaches, and consultants from 15 countries dedicated to doing business from a place of authenticity and wonder. Join us. It’s free. And invaluable.

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