Has this ever happened to you?
You are having a conversation with a friend, colleague, coworker, family member, hairdresser, etc. and it comes up that you are a writer.
And they ask you one of (or some hybrid of) these dreaded questions:
- What are you working on?
- What do you write?
- Can I read something you’ve written?
If you are unprepared you might respond in a particular way and the way you responded may leave you feeling like this:
Man, I have been there. More than once! It’s awful.
But when you are in that situation you learn a valuable lesson:
Talking about your writing is almost more important than having written.
We’ve all practiced our TedTalk about our book in front of the mirror (Oh, not you? Well, imagine you did this)
…and yet when we are face to face with the prospect of condensing, explaining, reiterating…
we just suddenly…
…run out of words?
Well, it’s tough! Your brain is full.
It probably doesn’t have any more room for a 280 character-condensed version of your 400 pg manuscript that you can quickly spit out at people as they walk by you.
Or put on a sandwich board as you parade up and down the street.
(Yes, I know that’s not how marketing works.)
But here’s the thing, you have to try. You must have something at the ready when people ask you.
But going back.
How many of you don’t like talking about your writing because:
- You assume no one is interested.
- You feel like you’re bragging.
- You feel like you come across as one of those millennial hipsters who never got around to getting a real job.
- You don’t like the conversation to turn into a sales pitch.
- You feel like (oof this is the worst) that talking about your idea gets it out of your head and into someone else’s head and now you have to hear their unsolicited opinion of your precious work?
Did you raise your hand? Sorry, I can’t see you.
Look, these feelings suck.
And though they aren’t derived from nothing, to be a successful writer you have to get over them.
So how do you fix this icky problem? How about 5 easy steps.
Step one: Stop being afraid.
*laughs in writer* No, seriously, stop.
It’s not a good look. I know you think you look all broody and wise and reclusive and hip and other words that might pertain to the image you have of yourself, but you just come across as a jerk.
That’s right, I said it: a jerk.
A jerk being someone who is not necessarily mean, but someone who is not very bright.
Sorry for the tough love, but if you don’t get past this step (where I lived for a very long time) you will never move on to step two.
Step two: Reflect on what you have written.
What kind of stuff do you write, what’s your genre, what inspires you, why do you write in the first place, who are your favorite authors (I know, ugh), think about all this stuff though (maybe even write it down, you writer) so that when someone asks you- you have an answer!
Step three: Talk to other writers; ask them questions and see what they say.
Seriously, learn from them. If they are super confident about their writing, why is that? Is it because they love sharing what they do and not hiding it from the world?
I know, weird, right? Seriously, though, learn from these people you will find it will change your perspective on your own writing forever.
Step four: Have a mock conversation.
I know, gross, but this really works. You can pick a writer-friend and that’ll make it easier. In fact, do yourself a favor and talk about writing with other writers on a daily basis
In doing so, you will build up the muscle required to speak with civilians.
Step five: Write some blurbs and pitches.
Because first of all, you’re going to need them anyway. And when you start querying, pitching and moving towards publishing you want to have a good idea of what you are doing first. It never hurts to practice.
Most people can’t promise you a magic bullet solution to this, but I can!
And only because it’s really a matter of getting out of your head and getting out there. And once you do that, you’ve done it.
So get out there and…