By Rod Martinez
“[Introverts] listen more than they talk, think before they speak, and often feel as if they express themselves better in writing than in conversation. They tend to dislike conflict. Many have a horror for small talk, but enjoy deep discussions.” ~ Susan Cain
Writers, The Proverbial Introvert
Most writers are introverts; at least, that’s the stereotype—laboring away in solitude at our computers, never engaging in the conversations because we’re taking mental notes, or languishing under the chestnut tree.
We like our solitude, but we’re not anti-social; it’s more about listening than talking. Listening helps us remember dialogue for our next book or learning the newest catchphrases for a character that’s younger or older than us.
From Shy to Speaker
So, how did I go from introverted writer to extroverted speaker? It started with an invitation from a local school to speak to kids about literacy. After a newspaper article on my first published book, I realized that I would have to transition from the proverbial shy writer to charismatic speaker – no pressure. But I found that the transition from someone who suffered stage fright to being comfortable on stage was easy after my first speaking engagement.
The method and journey to get there are what I would like to share.
That first author visit at a local school taught me something. It wasn’t something learned from an article, radio show, or conference; it was something the teacher told me in passing. She had no idea that it would be the inspiration to make that first talk a total success.
She told me, “They want you to be here; you’re keeping them from schoolwork, just make it fun and sprinkle in some memorable facts they will take home.”
I did. And they have invited me back every year since. And teachers love to share with other teachers and school librarians from other schools in the community – it was free advertisement.
The first time I realized I could share with writers was when I went to a book fair. Several local authors were chosen to bring their works and sell them at a book fair. I thought, “Wow, this will be cool.”
I set up six of my titles on the table, and every time a parent and child approached my table, I’d hear, “Mom, I want that book!” they pointed excitedly at the same book each time, my middle-grade paranormal adventure “Who Is The Gray Man?”. I had six titles on that table, but the kids flocked to that one. They wanted the book without even knowing what it was about. Why? Remember that adage “A book is judged by its cover“?
Being creative is part of the writer process, but book covers are my passion. Before writing took over my brain, I was an artist. In my youth, I swore I’d work for Stan Lee and become the next Jack Kirby (come on, you know who he is).
Well, at that book fair, that cover just jumped out at the kids. It wasn’t until that day that I took notice of the power of the cover. Soon after, I wrote an article about it published online by C. Hope Clark’s FundsForWriter’s newsletter. That became my first paid article. I was on a roll. Then I decided to try and make a PowerPoint presentation from that article. I submitted it for a writer’s workshop, and it was accepted. The next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Ohio to give a workshop on book covers for authors.
My point here is that I made book covers a passion, something I would get questions and asked advice on. In the viewpoint of the person asking, I was an expert.
Becoming an Authority
Graduating to writer’s conferences was the next step, which the new writer would never fathom. But guess what, when they seek proposals for authors to speak in panels or workshops on writing, you qualify for that panel or presentation. Yes, that’s right, you have an in. You are a professional on the subject; after all, you are a writer.
Of course, there was a significant bridge between sitting alone in our room/office/closet/back porch and slapping words together and standing alone in front of middle schoolers, other writers, or hopeful writers and convincing them that you are an authority on the subject.
I honed my approach to covers decided to reach out to other writer’s conferences. I’ve been giving this workshop (as well as others) ever since. I was even asked to give a keynote speech.
Ready to Take the Stage?
What’s your expertise, you ask? Think about all the things you have experience with and whether you could educate, entertain, or enchant an audience with that knowledge.
- Have you had to take care of your elderly Dementia parent?
- Homeschool your kids?
- Make goodies for your daughter’s softball team?
- Coach your daughter’s softball team?
- Do your change your oil, or know about at-home tricks for maintaining a vehicle?
Guess what? You are an expert; you can advise someone who has no idea how to approach the subject.
But it’s more than knowledge; people want to know the steps to get proficient in any subject.
- What was your journey to get you there?
- How much study, practice, and research did you do to become an expert?
- Can you help people with your expertise?
Some people need that advice, and you are the person they need to hear it from.
From Sitting Alone to Standing in Front of an Audience
How do you go from desk to stage? Just like with writing, it takes practice. The next time you are at a writer’s conference and sitting in that workshop, watch the speaker.
- Are they funny?
You can be that person. Emulate style, form, and delivery and always add humor. Remember, they want you to be there. You have something they want to hear, something they want to walk away from and say, “Man, I never thought of that.”
Visit a local chapter of Toastmasters in your area; you will learn a lot about delivery, speech, and the pitfalls we all suffer in the beginning.
Then you can be up there at the podium – sharing your expertise for all of us to learn from, and you too can go from stage fright to speaking at writer’s conferences, schools, libraries, and seminars.
Bio: Rod Martinez
Rod Martinez writes middle grade & young adult. Growing up on Marvel Comics and Twilight Zone, the inspiration was inevitable.
After a challenge by his son to write a story about him and his friends “like the Goonies’ but based in Tampa”, his first novel “The Juniors” was picked up by a publisher – and the rest as they say – is history.
Two Drops of Ink: The Literary Home for Collaborative Writing
When you’re ready to submit a guest post of poetry, prose, or problem-solving for the writer and blogger, please follow these guidelines. Thanks.