Only nine more days before The Midwest Writers Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana, where I’ll be giving a Synopsis workshop. This will be my first workshop as a published author, and it’s exciting and scary as heck. This is even more nerve-wracking than a first book signing. You know—the signing where you have nightmares that no one comes to your table, and if they do you stumble over your words like an idiot. Or maybe they buy your book and come back before the signing is over and ask for a refund. Talk about nerve-racking!
It’s not that I haven’t been in front of an audience before. I’ve sung solos since I was 6 years old; acted in a number of plays where you have to memorize lots of lines, and cues, and blocking, and be ready to improvise if something goes wrong—which it usually does. I’ve been a speaker at local writers’ workshops. I’ve spoken to school children about writing poetry and using real life events to create stories. I even created a flip book of a children’s book I wrote to share with them.
Singing is second nature to me. I’d be fine if I could sing my presentation. When I was acting a lot, while nervous I might forget my lines, I was never terrified to go on stage. After a few lines I got in the zone. The school children and writers’ groups were small and didn’t seem as daunting as this gig. Talking to children and people you know doesn’t have the visual impact of a group of strangers staring at you. Hanging on your every word. At least you hope they are and are not checking their email because you’re boring them to tears.
Recently, I’ve been part of a writers’ panel at a library, and I’m planning on contacting my county library to see if they’d be interested in writer panels. Panel discussions aren’t nail biters. You’re sharing the limelight with others.
But here’s the crazy part. I’m considering offering my synopsis workshop and developing other writer workshops to pitch to the local library. Considering the previous sentence, I have to wonder What’s got me so rattled over the Indianapolis workshop?
I’ve thought about it a lot, and come to conclusion that it’s been a while since I’ve faced this particular challenge. Sometimes when you’re out of practice, you’re scared to take a leap of faith—even when you’re sure you can do it. Could it be as simple as that?
I hope so.
In the meantime, I’m going to memorize as much of my workshop as possible and practice on every writer who will listen.
I’ll also be sure to employ that old speakers’ tip—picture the audience naked.
Then again … maybe not.
What about you? How do you get over stage fright?