I was at a networking event for work last week and was asked by a new acquaintance, “Tell me something about yourself that no one would think to guess.” I thought for a moment, and told her “I am currently working on my first novel!” She instantly sounded intrigued and started asking me a slew of questions about what it was about, what the characters were like, where/when it was based, etc.
As proud as I am of my novel and of my writing in general, I immediately got incredibly nervous and anxious about discussing my precious baby. I gave her a brief run down, but honestly didn’t know what to say, how much to divulge, and what to say/not to say to avoid sounding like a rambling moron. I’m rather shocked at how self-conscious I am when talking about my writing. At this stage of my writing career, I don’t write for anyone but myself. To quote one of my favorite authors, “I want to be recognized for beautiful work, for good work, for real work” – Cheryl Strayed. I want to produce work that touches others, that makes people feel something.
That being said, I’m constantly worried that when asked about my writing and when I discuss my work, people will judge it, will think things like “Well, that is is a stupid idea for a book!” Which is so silly as I know I shouldn’t give a rats ass about the perceptions of anyone else! Because of that fear of judgment, I often shy away from discussing my work.
I’m completely comfortable discussing my writing with other writers, with my close friends, and family. I’m sure that I will become less anxious about talking about my writing with strangers as I do it more frequently and push myself out of that comfort zone. I think one of these first steps is to create an “elevator speech” for each of the different styles of writing I have; have a little speech prepared when discussing my novel, my poetry, my short fiction, and so on. This will give me a baseline to start with and further expand on if the conversation warrants it. I have an elevator speech for work, why not for my writing?
What about you, fellow writers? How do you push through that initial feeling of anxiety when discussing your writing? Is it normal to feel a little self-conscious and nervous when talking about your writing? What do you say/not say? How do you know when to stop talking, when to continue, and how do you handle any negative feedback?
Happy writing! 🙂