The Socially Awkward Writer

Awkward Writer

In this day and age, a writer has to do a lot of legwork with the public to get their stuff out there to the masses.  We’re expected to take up the slack of building a fan base, interact with them, network with other writers and book reviewers, and be seen often enough so others take notice and become curious.

To an introvert, which most of us are to some degree, this sounds like an absolute, freaking nightmare.

Down to my bones, I am a listener.  A shadow.  Like Casper, but still alive and not a perpetual pubescent teenager (thank gods).  From an early age I learned to cultivate stillness of body and mouth to listen for what people said, as well as the things they left unsaid.  I did so because I was a nosy child who wanted to hear what the grownups were talking about, and I couldn’t accomplish my goal if they realized I was there.

This is not to say I’m not social.  I can talk your ear off if I think you’re interested in what I’m saying, but I prefer one on one interaction.  I can focus my energy better that way, give you attention, and have a great give and take encounter.

But to make it in the writing business, you have to learn to interact with a much larger group of people.  Like, all of Twitter.  Or Facebook.

I have a lot of hangups when it comes to being under a spotlight.  I clam up and my mind goes blank.  If I get a comment or a message it takes me a while to figure out how to answer it, and sometimes those niggling little self-esteem fear monsters start poking holes in my confidence and it’s just better to pretend That Thing isn’t there and go do something else.

These are hard habits to unlearn.  Writer’s can’t depend on publishers and agents to shoulder the burden of creating our platform anymore.  And if you choose to go the self publishing route, woo boy, you really have no outside support to ensure anyone even hears about your work at all, much less becomes a repeat customer.  So now it’s on us to learn how to be people persons on a much grander scale.

This is a good thing.

Yeah, I know, I see you cringing there.  So am I, but hear me out.  Interacting with people on the internet, on a daily basis, is a scary concept.  Up until I started my blog last year I had virtually no interaction with people I didn’t know on the internet.  It was hard for me to even leave comments on fan fiction I adored.  But then I would take a step back and watch The Mom.

The Mom has been plugging away at her Natural Living business for almost five years now.  It’s been a slow process, one during which she has had to overcome a number of obstacles, learn a ton of new skills, and reach out to network with people she’s never seen or met.  The Mom is just as much of an introvert as me, but she’s put herself forward and is working to overcome her obstacles, because she believes in her business and wants it to be successful.

She knows that will never happen unless she works to make it so.

That’s when I decided to create my blog.  Because I know my dreams of being an author with her books up for sale will never happen unless I go full in and make it happen myself.  My first step was the blog.  I’ve done a good job of posting regularly, but it hasn’t garnered much attention.  So I did some thinking and decided to tackle Twitter next.  Everyone is on Twitter.  It’s a global thing where everything is connected and it’s scarier than that time I was being stalked by a mountain lion with nothing but a green horse and miles between me and the barn.  Sometimes I’d rather face the mountain lion, at least that I have a chance of beating.

But Twitter isn’t something to beat.  It’s a learning opportunity, and I have to remind myself of that every time my little head monsters start acting up.  No one is making me do this.  I could very well stop right now, but my writing is too important to me.  I remind myself that it’s just one more step in the direction of my dreams.

So if you’re struggling with the same little head monsters, you’re not alone.  It’s tough, and it’s scary, but I think it’s worth doing to get where you wanna go with your writing.  You’ll never know how far you can go if you refuse to make a move.

Other Resources:

Building Good Writing Habits

The Doneness Project

Writerly Resolutions

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