Writing can be a rather solitary occupation, and mostly, that has suited me quite well. Events like writer’s conferences, meetings, and retreats have been a stretch for me because they nudge me out of my introverted cave. Remarkably, four times in the past four months, I’ve gathered with Canadian authors at various writing retreats. It’s been a game-changer—inspiring, encouraging, and educational, not to mention a much-needed reminder that writers need each other.
Eden Mills Writer’s Retreat -Feb 25 & 26, 2023
Each of us requires our share of encouragement and healthy feedback, don’t we? To be cheered on, to be told our work has worth, and that what we do has the makings of beauty—the fingerprints of our creator himself—is what gives it meaning. In essence, we desire to know that we’re making a difference. And whether we use words, paint, numbers, tools, instruments, or equipment, we delight to know that the work of our hands is impacting this world for good.
This past December, I ran into a Music Professor I used to work alongside at our former church. He paused to speak to me before heading on stage to play a magnificent, hundred-year-old organ. We had no sooner begun chatting when he handed me an unsolicited compliment by saying, “You are the most creative person I know.” Though I am confident he is surrounded by extraordinary creatives at the college, and that his mind should have been preoccupied with the complex instrument he was about to play, his impeccably-timed encouragement breathed life into my spirit.
Brantford Writer’s Retreat – February 7, 2023
Much like the Professor’s compliment, these writing retreats have encouraged me and served as much-needed reminders to keep going. The life-giving words of other writers, offering direction and creative insight during our brainstorming sessions, have reignited my passion for writing and unearthed the motivation I needed to move forward after a sluggish year. It was more than I had expected when I took the chance and said yes to these invitations. And… I’ve said yes to three more including The Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference in North Carolina this spring.
Niagara Falls Writer’s Retreat – January 12-17, 2023
But isn’t it just like God to step in and offer practical help or reassurance? I’ve noticed God often uses others to accomplish his purposes—his people acting as an extension of his hands and feet on earth. God encourages us in other ways too. He teaches us, guides us, comforts us, and directs us through his word, Spirit, and even circumstances. He uses these varying methods to ensure we are not only held and directed but, in my case, don’t remain in a solitary writing cave!
I chose the word BRAVE as my 2023 word of the year. In 2020, I chose FEARLESS. Obviously, they are virtually the same—I like words so much I merely defaulted to a synonym—but I needed another crack at being fearless. Practice makes perfect… and all that. I also chose a couple of verses for the year for added inspiration. Feel free to borrow them if you like. I’ve left them at the end of this blog.
Refocus Writing Retreat – Guelph Bible Conference Centre – November 7-10, 2022
All this to say, my encouragement to you (and me) this year is to keep going! Your talents, skills, and creativity make a difference and bring beauty to this world, and, believe me, this world is aching for more beauty! And don’t be fooled into thinking that only the arts are creative. God made us in his image, and humans are innately creative. Mathematicians, scientists, architects, and business people (to mention only a few) creatively solve problems while creating newness and beauty all the time.
This year, join me in throwing off discouragement and disillusionment and bravely using what we have at our disposal to deposit beauty in this world.
“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid or dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9.
“May he grant you according to your heart’s desire and fulfill all your purpose.” Psalm 20:4
- What are you putting off doing because of fear?
- What is one brave step you can take today?
- How can you create beauty in this world with your gifts and skills?
Check out the works of the Candian authors who attended these retreats: