Top Ten Takeaways from Women & Words 2011 – Part ONE

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I attended the inaugural Women & Words Conference in Coquitlam this past Friday and Saturday (April 29 & 30, 2011). What a fantastic event! My hat goes off to Pamela Chatry and her leadership team. I came away with my heart full of inspiration and my notebook full of tips.

I thought it would be helpful for me to identify my Top Ten Takeaway ideas from the conference. However, in the spirit of shorter blog posts, I’m only featuring five at a time. Here are the first five, in no particular order of importance, along with credit to the appropriate speaker(s).

1. Shift It

This concept came up in the very first workshop I attended with Brita McLaughlin as well as during an inspirational keynote address by Carla Rieger. Both speakers used this phrase to describe what to do if your creative process is blocked. Brita recommends doing something to shift your energy, such as: going for a walk in nature, using music to change your mood, switching from using a computer to a pen and notebook. Basically, just try something different to change your mood, shift your energy and renew your creative process.

Carla Rieger’s term is “switchover”. When she’s caught thinking about the myriad things she could be doing instead of writing, she mentally puts all of her “stuff” into a basket and puts it aside. I suppose it’s a little like flipping a switch in her head. Off goes the mental chatter and she can get on to the important task of writing. Although it’s probably harder than it sounds, I’m certainly going to give this one a try!

2. Flip It

Melody Biringer, founder of CRAVE came up with this idea after a few years of struggling with her CRAVE books. She realized the books were taking too much time and effort and not giving her a good ROI (return on investment). So she decided to completely “flip” her creative concept for the books. You can read the story in her new book, Craving Success.

The main takeaway point for me: if something isn’t working, then FLIP IT.  Melody suggested this quick exercise: make a list of ideas that are the opposite of what you’re currently doing. Somewhere in that list may be just the creative direction you need to go!

3. Tell a Story. (Tell Your Story.)

I liked Kathrin Lake’s reminder to include stories in nonfiction writing. Why? Because people remember stories. If you recall details from a speech, book or workshop from your distant past, it’s likely you remember the content tied to stories. Kathrin pointed out the memorable story in Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence, where young children are given the choice of eating one marshmallow immediately or two marshmallows if they can wait until the adult comes back into the room.  The children who were able to delay gratification tested much higher on the emotional intelligence scale later in life.

But the key takeaway point for me was Kathrin’s reminder to include your own personal story when writing a nonfiction book. I think this applies to blog writing, article writing and other types of nonfiction writing. If you want to connect meaningfully with your readers, at some point or another, you’re going to have to show your vulnerable side. Personally, I’m drawn to those writers who aren’t afraid to let it all hang out!

4. Know Your Purpose.

This was Tip #1 in Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen’s workshop on 10 Ways to Build a (Better) Blog. For obvious reasons, this tip resonated with me. And Laurie’s presentation certainly helped me refocus my purpose for this blog, which is to connect with my tribe — and inspire people to tell their unique story and live their unique purpose. Thanks Laurie!

5. Live with Compassion.

This was the primary message I took from Dr. Stephen Post’s inspiring keynote speech. As a mother raising a young daughter, his big question of “how do we raise caring children in today’s world” certainly resonated with me. I also enjoyed hearing the statistics showing that living an altruistic life leads to greater health and longevity.

Whew. No wonder I was exhausted after the Women & Words Conference.  That’s a lot of information to assimilate! If you’re ready for more, click here for Part TWO.

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