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If you're like me, you'll have a little voice in the back of your head that speaks up whenever you think about stepping outside your comfort zone. It's not easy, but if we want to achieve our goals and dreams we have to learn to ignore that voice.

When I first thought about giving a writerly talk, the little voice in my head (which, by the way, sounds suspiciously like my old gran) kept up an incessant chatter for about a week. "You're not qualified." "Who do you think you are?" etc.

For a while, it worked. After all, there were so many other writers out there, many of whom have far better writing credentials than what I do. I felt disheartened, and more than a little ashamed of myself for thinking I had the right to speak about writing or blogging in public. Then I realized I was just making excuses. 

Of course, the voice didn't give up right away. When the first approach didn't work, it switched tactics: "You'll stink." "Nobody will come." "You'll make a fool of yourself... again."

No matter. Every time it started, I'd close my eyes and recite the family motto, Carpe remotum, until the voice went away.

I'm so glad I did, because giving talks and presentations is a real hoot and a half.

In the last couple of weeks, I've pencilled in a few more dates on my 2011 speaking calendar. They range from individual talks, like the GETTING PUBLISHED presentation I'm giving this afternoon in Somerset County, to the next HAVE BLOG, WANT READERS? shindig, to some multi-author panel/Q&As with some of my friends in NJAN (The New Jersey Authors Network).

I'm particularly excited about taking my FUN WITH FICTION program for a test drive at Raritan-Bridgewater Middle School on June 3rd, where I'll be giving three, one-hour, presentations to 7th graders there.

Providing you do a decent job of it, these kind of events are (in my opinion) the best possible type of self-promotion. A live presentation sticks with us a lot longer than a written one. True, that's not always a good thing (as anyone who attended a Gentleman Jones concert will attest), but it's usually a positive.

That's why I believe it's important for us as writers to get out of our comfort zone and get ourselves in front of other potential readers and other writers. 

My old gran still whispers those sweet negatives in my ear on the way to each event, but I've learned to ignore that voice and focus on the fun.

How about you?

When did you last step out of your comfort zone? 



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( 35 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 18th, 2011 12:39 pm (UTC)
...i don't think i ever *had* a comfort zone to stay in :)
May. 18th, 2011 01:38 pm (UTC)
Luck you :)
May. 18th, 2011 12:50 pm (UTC)
Hey, at least you know your old gran cares! (Although, come to think of it, she sounds suspiciously like mine, only we always called her Nana).
May. 18th, 2011 01:38 pm (UTC)
We used to call mine 'Sir' ;)
(no subject) - snapes_angel - May. 18th, 2011 03:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 18th, 2011 08:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - snapes_angel - May. 18th, 2011 08:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 18th, 2011 01:59 pm (UTC)
Good post, Jon. The old comfort zone can be a problem.
May. 18th, 2011 02:08 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Aaron. It can indeed :)
May. 18th, 2011 02:14 pm (UTC)
Note to self: proofread before posting...
Co-incidentally enough,
I've offered quite a few people
the opportunity to write an introduction/commentary
to a work in the public domain for Flatwater Press,
and most have insisted that they're not qualified...
I'll grant you that Gustavo Bondoni and Kimberly Todd Wade
are perfectly qualified to write incisive and meaningful discussions,
but they're really not an intimidating crowd among whom to find one's self.

Meanwhile, my own comfort zone, since you ask...

I'm putting together a fourth collection of stories;
in addition to things I've written recently,
I'm including earlier things I was hesitant to include
in either of the first two collections.

But a few brave members of my flist have read them,
and assured me that these stories are good.

I hope they're right.
May. 18th, 2011 09:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Note to self: proofread before posting...
Best of luck :)
May. 18th, 2011 02:27 pm (UTC)
I was a guest speaker at a writing group last month. It was fun! But, despite my "modesty is for suckers" motto, I had the same qualms. Who am I to discuss such things? What makes me someone to give answers?

But I discovered that wherever I am on a writerly scale, I'm in a different place on that scale than they are, and it's one they all would love to be in. I was able to tell them how I got there, give some advice they hadn't heard before. Would I stand next to Neil Gaiman and pretend to be on his rung of the ladder? No! But I CAN help others achieve their dreams, even if it's just a little boost.
May. 18th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
But I CAN help others achieve their dreams, even if it's just a little boost.

Yes indeedy-do :)
(no subject) - clarionj - May. 18th, 2011 11:17 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - May. 19th, 2011 02:01 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - jongibbs - May. 19th, 2011 07:34 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - clarionj - May. 19th, 2011 12:26 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - May. 19th, 2011 11:25 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - May. 19th, 2011 12:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - May. 19th, 2011 12:38 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - msstacy13 - May. 19th, 2011 12:39 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bogwitch64 - May. 19th, 2011 01:09 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 18th, 2011 03:11 pm (UTC)
That's cool that you're having fun with it! I think shutting out the negative voices is key for so many things in life.
May. 18th, 2011 09:04 pm (UTC)
Absolutely. It's not just good for writing stuff :)
(Deleted comment)
May. 18th, 2011 09:01 pm (UTC)
"seize the remote"

You got it ;)
May. 18th, 2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
I feel outside of my comfort zone right now, as I work full time on the textbook now that school is out for the summer. I know that I know this material backwards and forwards, and in the classroom I'm extremely confident, but writing it all down as clearly as possible, in a mixture of enough academese to sound knowledgeable and enough vernacular to make it accessible, knowing that I won't be with every reader to answer questions, is making me feel, from time to time, like I have no business writing this text. Or more commonly, who am I to think I can do a better job at this then the hundres of art professors that have written 2-D design books. Never mind that this is for theatre and no such text as mine currently exists. Then I remind myself that my student teaching evaluations are excellent, and that the company liked the book proposal, and the initial reviews of the sample chapter were good, so I must be capable of doing this, lol.
May. 18th, 2011 09:06 pm (UTC)
I don't think we ever get rid of the negative voices, we just get better at ignoring them :)
May. 18th, 2011 04:55 pm (UTC)
Whenever I read over anything I've written the voice in my head says "that is the worst thing anyone anywhere has ever written since the invention of writing. Anybody who reads this will stab their own eyes out with a letter opener do you want that to happen WELL DO YOU?"

I need to find some better voices.
May. 18th, 2011 09:06 pm (UTC)
Lol, it's when other people say it that you've got a problem ;)
(no subject) - clarionj - May. 18th, 2011 11:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - lg8776 - May. 19th, 2011 05:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
May. 18th, 2011 11:02 pm (UTC)
I'm glad you did. From the one speaking engagement I saw of yours, you seemed so natural with it. And like you were having fun.

Well, when I tried it a couple times, in groups, rather than me as the host, my throat closed in asthma-like symptoms. The other day when someone posted an announcement of my novel coming out, I was sitting home alone and my heart started racing unnaturally, and my body reacting as a panic attack. My worry isn't about being unsuccessful or unknowledgeable; it's more sharing what I've kept private my whole life, and how many emotions come to the surface that I prefer not to share; it's giving up my private life in general!

But ... I'll need to figure out a balance. I do like people, and do like to help. There must be a way to do both :)
May. 19th, 2011 07:35 am (UTC)
I know what you mean, but if you ask me, it's so worth it :)
( 35 comments — Leave a comment )

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



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