Writers: Be someone else

Photo © Depositphotos.com/  SergeyNivens
Photo © Depositphotos.com/ SergeyNivens

Not the advice you were expecting?

The last two weeks I have shared a couple of things I have learned or observed with regard to doing public appearances.  Last week, I talked about standing up and changing your physical presence to help change your mental state (Amy Cuddy’s “Fake it ’til you become it” message).  This week I wanted to offer another suggestion on how you might change your outlook and project more confidence.

Public speaking for many can be a very daunting task.  I’ve mentioned this before, but for writers in particular, we tend to be introverted in nature and that causes us to stand off to the side and watch things as they occur around us.  We can be the great observers and use that to make powerful stories, but often we avoid the spotlight.  However, marketing and getting your book out in front of readers requires having a public face and drawing attention to ourselves.  We have to let people know our stories exist.

Another trait of writers is we often have many characters running through our heads (often at rather odd times of the day).  When we sit down to write, these characters come to life and in some sense, we can cease being ourselves and become those characters for a short while as we put their story down on paper.

In looking at our favorite characters, one of the things that often draws us to them is their willingness to jump into action and take on the world (or whatever challenge we’ve constructed to make their lives difficult).  They always face some bumps along the way, but our characters persist.  Our favorite ones put themselves out there and stand center stage as they overcome adversity.  These characters will often do things we would never personally consider doing.  Yet, parts of them are what we would want to be if we could be anything we wanted.  We identify with these characters and when reading or writing them, we truly are them in thought.

So, my advice is this.  When it comes time to stand up in front of a large group of people, become one of your characters that has the confidence to take center stage.  Take on this character as you take on the role and simply play a part in the story—your own story.  Do not worry about the mundane things that you have to do or what people may be thinking.  Simply get into character just as you do when you are in front of the keyboard and channel that person.  Be the character that is already inside of you…is already a part of you…who underneath it, really is you.  And as you do that—faking the confidence to get through the event—you will eventually have the confidence and will no longer have to fake it.