Writing Isn’t Necessarily For The Shy

by Linda O. Johnston       

Shy I was a shy kid. 

I stumbled when teachers called on me in classrooms from elementary school through high school, and seldom raised my hand to provide an answer.  I could, however, be someone else on stage and so I managed to do okay acting in a play.

When I was about to graduate from high school, one of my English teachers called me into her office and warned me I would never be successful, since I couldn’t talk in class.

Even so, I did okay in undergraduate school.  But when I went to law school and had to participate in moot court, I was advised to join Toastmasters. Microphones

That worked–or at least well enough so I had no problem passing even my litigation-oriented classes, even though I intended to become a transactional attorney.

And all this time, I had started my writing and kept on going.

MicrophoneFlash forward quite a few years.  I eventually started having novels published.  I loved it!  But I also learned that part of attempting to be successful was that you had to get out there and publicize your books.  And so, I started volunteering for panels first, then gave talks on my own.  Somehow, I managed to get through them.

And now?  Well, now I’m fine getting up in front of a group and talking, particularly about my writing and the genres I write in.  Which is fortunate.  Last weekend, I attended California Dreamin’, a local romance writers’ conference held every two years.  I had already registered and planned to attend.

But then, on Thursday, I received an email.  Could I please give a talk on my own on Saturday?  A person who’d planned to attend and provide a talk on cozy mysteries and romance novels was unfortunately ill, and they needed me to substitute for her.

Two days to prepare for a one-hour speech.  Could I get it prepared?  Could I actually present it in front of a group? 

Friendly MicYes!  In fact, I’d started doing talks and panels long enough ago now that I just had to do a search on my computer and find notes for a talk I’d given a few years ago that I updated.

I think my talk went over well.  I enjoyed giving it, and my audience seemed engaged and asked good, pertinent questions–which I could answer without referring to my notes the way I needed to when I started out.

So am I shy any more?  I don’t think so, at least not externally.  And I have learned my lesson.  If you’re going to be a writer, it definitely helps to deal with any shyness you have and, preferably, get over it.

How shy are you?Bow

11 thoughts on “Writing Isn’t Necessarily For The Shy”

  1. Words to the wise, Linda. Many new writers don’t realize what they are getting into, but it’s all part of the job. I took acting lessons years ago to learn more about writing dialogue, but it also taught me how to get up in front of an audience. Very good post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting. I always found it easier to address a crowd than to meet people one on one afterwards. I’ve had to work on that angle all my life. Those things do become easier with time if you work on them. For me, it helps to think of the people you are talking to as real people. They have the same hurts, troubles and joys that I do. Addressing a crowd is just having a conversation with a group of people. Meeting those same people afterwards is just doing the same thing to one person at a time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I guess everyone’s different in their forms of shyness. Sometimes I know at least some of the people in an audience, and that can help. Yes, they’re real people! And I do talk to them, and sometimes strangers, too, afterwards.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent post. I’ve heard you speak, and you do an excellent job. For myself, to this day, still don’t like giving talks–had to speak for work outside of writing in the past, but still not me forte. Don’t think I’m really shy, just don’t like doing it. Hmmm…

    Sounds like you tackled the “speaking” problem with smart activities–and like I said, succeeded quite well! Kudos.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great post on a topic writers often hear about but rarely do – talk in public about our writing. In my volunteer position working with high school creative writing students, I have had to give talks and classes about writing, which I’m comfortable doing. However, as soon as I have to talk about MY writing, I clam up. It’s good to hear that one can become more comfortable at it once you practice it more. p.s. great seeing you today.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. In some ways it’s easier, and in others it’s harder, to discuss our own stuff. We know it best–but we can also worry it’ll be judged differently if we talk about it. And I enjoyed seeing you, too!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. You seem to do very well at writers club meetings. I’ve heard you at Sisters In Crime.
    BTW. I’m a part of the GREAT ESCAPE COZY BOOK TOURS, so I will be spotlighting your newest book on my own blog in May!! Wish I could review it, but not sure if there’s time between my two trips! I’d like to do a character or guest post with it though.

    Liked by 1 person

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