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Thursday, September 1, 2016

Writers as Leaders

This post by Gayle M. Irwin

Last month I attended a simulcast of the Global Leadership Summit (GLS), an endeavor of the Willow Creek Association located in Chicago that is broadcast to venues throughout the nation. This two-day conference, held annually for more than 20 years, features renowned speakers and leaders from businesses, non-profits, and churches who encourage attendees to become better leaders. This year’s faculty included Melinda Gates, Dr. Travis Bradberry, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Bill Hybels, and Patrick Lencioni. As I’ve listened to the stories and talks by the various presenters this year and during previous years and pondered applications, I've come to recognize that writers are leaders. 

Have you ever considered that? The journalist on the air or the page, the blogger online, the poet and essayist in a literary magazine, the nature article writer, the book author, songwriter, screenplay composer… they all contribute ideas, share tales, and make people think. Writers engage, educate, and inform; writers spark controversy, investigate rumors, research, report, entertain, encourage.

Writers engage people. They teach and inspire readers, and sometimes they teach and mentor one another. I’m planning to attend a one-day writer’s workshop later this month; the leader is fiction writer Morgan Callan Rogers. I have not written a book or short story in a similar vein as Morgan; my work, mostly memoir and children’s pet stories (the pet does not talk), primarily use setting and action to tell the story, not dialogue or character development. However, I have works in progress which will branch me out and take me out of my comfort zone – for these, I need further writing instruction and guidance, in particular developing characters and generating strong dialogue. I feel I will become a better writer by attending this conference and being tutored by a writing leader… as well as learn from other attendees.

I, too, can be a leader with the works I do produce. For example, I write inspirational pet stories for children, in which I weave character traits and life lessons, such as courage, perseverance, friendship, and self-confidence. When I visit schools and libraries and share my words with youngsters, my hope is to inspire them for the times in life in which they may face negative things like divorce or bullying… as well as to create an engaging, fun story for them to read.

I also see myself becoming more of a leader in regard to pet and creation care. Animals and nature are my passions; I desire to see people more greatly appreciate the beauty around us and the pets which share our lives and need our help. I recently had a short story published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Spirit of America, in which I reflect upon the gems which are America’s national parks. One of my works in progress is called Jasmine’s Journey: The Story of a Rescue Dog, which will teach children what pet rescue organizations do. I envision these projects growing me as a writer-leader.

The major theme of the GLS is “Lead where you are.” During a session at a previous Summit, the speaker talked about “sowing seeds.” I enjoy sowing my word-seeds in order to encourage, inspire, and entertain people, both adults and children. Writers are leaders, and it’s an exciting journey!

Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations. 
 ~ Henry David Thoreau

Gayle M. Irwin is the author of several inspirational dog books for children and adults, including a chapter book called Sage's Big Adventure and a memoir titled Walking in Trust: Lessons Learned from My Blind Dog, both about her dog's blindness and the lessons she learned along that journey. She is also a contributing writer to several editions of Chicken Soup for the Soul and is one of the featured writers in Memories from Maple Street U.S.A: Pawprints on My Heart, released in July by Sundown Press. She speaks in schools, at libraries, and for civic and faith-based organizations. Learn more at


  1. Very interesting blog. It reminds me of my last Midwest Writers Guild meeting. Authors of all types gather together. We have poets, bloggers, romance and children's authors. There are publishers and even a young teen or two.
    Last month a young adult, male, twenty-teen walked into our group as a new member. On introduction, he said, I write Hard Core music. He spoke a couple more time and used the F-bomb in casual. The poor guy--surrounded by mostly older people who frowned at his speech-- he must have felt as though he didn't fit and left the meeting early. He didn't return.
    I wanted so much to speak to him after the session, but I didn't get the chance. On the weekends I have an entire basement full of musicians and song writers who enjoy Hard Core music. I could have introduced him to the group and he could have benefitted from the meeting. They enjoy writing lyrics, some religious, some not, but would have welcomed him.
    Writers do have a lot of good info to teach and spread if given the chance. Like me, most of us are just glad when readers like our books. Kudos to you for helping to teach children and best wishes.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, C.A. -- my writers' group also consists of people writing in various genres. I appreciate your comments and encouragement.

  2. Gayle, I certainly do believe that writers have an influence on their readers. I remember how much Louisa May Alcott taught me through her stories and their characters to be a better person, to do charitable work for others, and she introduced me to Thoreau, for which I will always be grateful.
    I do include things I care about and hope to encourage readers to care about in my Wildings westerns such as the love of animals, forgiveness, equine therapy, and so on.
    I admire authors who consider the content of their stories and how they can convey a way to love all living things, our planet, and each other to their readers.
    I want to wish you the very best to your corner of the earth, Gayle.

    1. Thank you for reading and commenting, Sarah. Writers are leaders and maintain a responsibility to readers and the world. Your books sound wonderful -- I will look at them. Thanks again!

  3. We write because we have something to say. Sometimes we do it with fiction, some times with true stories. Either way, we hope to give the world something it didn't have before.

    Great post, and many thoughts to ponder. Succes on you journey, for it will be a wonderful one. Doris

    1. Thanks so much for your encouragement and comments, Doris. You are a great writer-leader and I'm blessed to know you!