Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Things we never expect from our career: Part Two

By Julie Wright

As mentioned in last week’s blog, I had to learn to deal with readings and signings and selling myself in general. Things only grew worse with time. People called me to ask me to speak at schools, to speak at church functions, to speak at writer’s conferences. People asked ME to speak.

I guess I’m fussing over this because I’m speaking next month to a thousand teenagers ranging from fourteen to eighteen in age, and I’m flat-out terrified. I think the largest group I’ve ever spoken to is 300. One thousand people. That’s a lot more than 300 for those of you (like me) who don’t do math.

The number terrifies even if the talks are the same.

I share all of this with you, not because I enjoy pointing out my own lack of courage, and the possibility that I will vomit in front of one thousand teenage witnesses, but because if you really want to be an author, you need to prepare yourself for being in the public eye.

Not in the public eye like JK Rowling. It’s unlikely you’ll need a pseudonym to keep the paparazzi at bay, but you will be asked to speak on panels, to teach classes and to give entire motivational seminars for aspiring writers. This means if you’re a victim of chronic stage fright, you might want to take a few speaking classes.

Toastmasters is a great place for beginner speakers. They’ll help polish out your rough edges. They’ll eliminate, or at least diminish, your um’s, er’s, and ah’s. I’d encourage you to give a few evenings to toastmasters to help you out. You can learn about the program and locate the chapter nearest you here:

I heard once that the anxiety caused from having to speak in public actually sets off healthy endorphins in your brain. I have no idea if that’s true or not . . . I likely read it on the internet and you know you can’t trust anything you read on the internet . . . (hey, wait a minute . . .)

Speaking in public really is a great tool. It allows you to connect with your readers and allows you to connect with people who are potential readers. If you fear it--get over it.

And don't forget: it’s all about the staff at bookstores when you do signings.


Janette Rallison said...

So true, so true. No one ever told me how much speaking I'd have to do once I became a published author. And yeah, I worry about vomitting too--or worse yet that I'll be so bad the crowd will be the one vomitting instead. So far it hasn't happened.

Good luck with your 1000 teenagers. (What is that for?) Let us know how it goes!

Heather B. Moore said...

1000 teenagers? Wow! I can't imagine. I've attended Toastmasters and I think it's invaluable for people who have to do any sort of speaking in front of groups. Or even if you just have to do presentations for your co-workers. It's highly structured and amazing how much you can learn by just watching others work through the process.

Anna Maria Junus said...

I attended Toastmasters for three years, even became president and a judge as well as earning my Toastmaster and Leader Awards (can't remember the names of them now). I would encourage anyone to do Toastmasters.

Good luck with your speech.