Writers love words and stories, and working alone to do our typing, research, and editing. We can even enjoy interviewing subjects, because we’re talking about them. But, sometimes, we have to talk about ourselves, which for many means going outside their comfort zones. It may not be easy, but often, it’s necessary – to get published, to get an agent, to interact with our readers, and to get jobs.
I was a shy kid (as many writers were). Now, I’m an introvert who can be extroverted in many situations. I’m the woman standing in line who starts a conversation about the item you’re purchasing that I just love. I’m the woman who knows her baristas by name. I’m the woman who can small talk about small things. But, learning to sell myself and my writing skill was a struggle and I still get nervous.
Recently, a local publication sought freelancers to add to their roster. I sent an e-mail with my resume, and links to my clips. The editor responded enthusiastically, saying that it looked like I would be a good fit for her needs. “Let’s get together and talk about it,” she said.
My heart skipped a beat. I’m going to have to talk about me. Big sigh.
Yes, said my rational self, but it’s about your writing, the thing you love to do most. Of course, I think that’s one of the reasons I get so nervous – because my writing means so much to me. But that’s also the reason I muster up the courage to not only have this face to face meeting, but to really sell myself and get the gig.
It’s like writing – it’s something you can get better at the more you do it. Just thinking about it won’t help. Analyzation and anticipation are the enemies. Our minds can conjure up catastrophic scenarios of how bad things will go. That’s a good thing when you’re writing a scene and need an innovative idea. It’s not so helpful in this real world situation.
I’ve found that doing the following makes the whole process easier:
1.) Prepare well and arrive early. I made sure I knew this editor’s publication inside and out and I got to the meeting location 15 minutes ahead of time.
2.) Take deep breaths and talk kindly to yourself. Prior to meeting the editor, I took several deep breaths and reminded myself that I deserved the job. I am a good writer who comes up with interesting ideas and delivers them well ahead of her deadlines. Focusing on that, and providing positive affirmation, helped to keep the catastrophe-prone thoughts at bay.
3.) Just do it. When the editor arrived, I stood up, shook her hand, and smiled. Once that moment passed, I relaxed. The anticipation gave way to the reality that, “Hey! I’m doing it!” and I was able to actually enjoy what now was just a conversation.
And I got the gig.
I may never be 100 percent at ease when talking about my writing, or pitching my ideas to an editor, a publisher, or an agent in person. But, the more I do it, and the more I remind myself that I’ve done this before, and can do it again. It gets easier each time. I have lots of somethings to say – and sometimes I have to say them out loud to sell myself to get the gigs that allow me to do what I love.
Tara Lynn Johnson is a freelance writer in the Philadelphia region. She writes arts and entertainment articles, profiles, theater reviews, and commentary. She’s on Twitter @taralynnjohnson and on the web at http://www.taralynnjohnson.com.