Outside My Comfort Zone

(Flickr photo by Trevor Blake)

This month, the CW blog-chain gang is posting about writing-related things that put us outside of our comfort zone. Oh, my. Where do I start?

Perhaps with the day I found the CW site. I was so proud of my accomplishment–I had finished writing a book! How many others could say the same? Well, tons actually. But I took my arrogant self into the forums to share with others my bountiful knowledge of novel creation.

That’s when I found out I knew diddly-squat about writing. I didn’t dare share my “knowledge” in there because I’d receive a well-deserved horse laugh.

Or what about my first time submitting my manuscript for critique. Or the first time I submitted to a nation-wide contest. Ack! Maybe this post should be titled, “My Most Embarrassing Writer Moments.”

All that’s behind me now, and as a two-time finalist in the Genesis contest, I feel I’ve gained some credibility as a writer. What’s pulling me outside my comfort zone now is the self-promotion part of the business. Building up a platform of followers outside my family and friends. I must be doing something right, because I’ve been invited to speak to two writers’ groups. I’d been asked to speak once before, but turned the invitation down. At that time, I had absolutely nothing to offer.

That doesn’t necessarily mean that this time I do. First, I still have a lot to learn about writing and that’s only slightly mitigated by the fact that I believe everyone does, I don’t care how well-known or widely published they are. Second, you never know who you’ll be speaking to. Big deal–I’m a two-time finalist. I may be speaking to a roomful of Genesis winners for all I know. What do I have to offer?

Back in the day, when I stood on the stage alone before a crowd, I wore the confidence that comes from youth. Even in my thirties, when I sang for the church, I was fairly confident. But that was nigh unto twenty years ago, and my confidence had been circling the drain until my most recent experience of being before a crowd (recounted toward the end of “Another Busy Week“). After that fiasco, hilarious though it was, my confidence zipped down the sewer and is now sinking in the oil-soaked Gulf.

Yet I’d stand and sing before a packed stadium of half-drunk college kids before I’d speak to a small intimate group of strangers.

There’s something about actually being able to see the eyes looking at me, something about knowing that my usual tricks to hide my nervousness will be clearly visible to folks sitting not five feet from me, that scares the beeswax outta me. I can do it. I’ve had to. I’m on the board of directors of the food bank where I volunteer a few times each month, and my role is to pass to the volunteers things we discuss at the board meetings. I’m the “liasion.” I get nervous in front of them, but at least I know them.

When the time comes for me to address the strangers in these writer’s groups, I’ll be so far out of my comfort zone Rand McNally won’t be able to get me back. But I’ll do it.

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
This entry was posted in Writing. Bookmark the permalink.

35 Responses to Outside My Comfort Zone

  1. When I speak, I gain some comfort by remembering there are always some who know less than me and some who know more than me. And those who know more can surely use a review. 🙂

    And isn’t it all about just sharing what we’ve learned on the journey?

    I’d be sitting in the front row to hear you!

    Like

  2. Nina Hansen says:

    Good post, Linda! I know I can definitely relate to you! Having to do that writer’s read this spring… I thought I was going to pass out at the podium. But y’know what? It turned out to be fun. I bet your writer’s groups will be the same way! Don’t forget to let us know how that goes, eh?

    Thanks for being part of the chain!!!

    Like

    • pprmint777 says:

      Nina, thanks for sharing your experience. I’m sure it’ll be fun. It’s just like getting a shot. When I was a kid (and even now as an adult) when I knew I’d be facing a needle, it would grow in my imagination to three feet long! The dread of it was always worse than the actual thing. 🙂

      Like

  3. Lynn Mosher says:

    Linda, Great post! I didn’t know you spoke (well, you know what I mean) and sang! Too cool. And congrats on the speaking engagements. I learned some more good stuff about you!

    We all have our ups and downs but writers, well, we’re a different breed. I think we experience ups and downs more often than others. I think it’s my muse. She needs some B12. She’s been napping too much lately! LOL

    Like

    • pprmint777 says:

      Becoming a “speaker” is new to me. I’ve performed my works on stage before and sang for the church, but I’ve never been a featured speaker. That’ll be new for me.

      Give your muse a B-12 shot and a power drink!

      Like

  4. Suzanne says:

    I had to laugh at your listing of some of your early discomfort zone moments, Linda, because they are mine as well. I haven’t gotten to the point of speaking in front of groups yet, but the mere thought of marketing makes my head spin–one more step (maybe several) deeper into my discomfort zone.

    Like

    • pprmint777 says:

      Oh, gosh, yes Suz. Marketing freaks me out. You remember that picture Mike Snyder had on his FB wall–the huge billboard featuring “My Name is Russell Fink” and him standing under it? That should be all that’s required in the lines of marketing!!!

      Like

  5. Duane Scott says:

    Yep. Eyes creep me out. 🙂

    You’ll do GREAT tho!

    Like

  6. Kat Connolly says:

    This is a great post, Linda!

    As someone who knows less than you do, I would definitely be looking up to you as you speak. I imagine that the majority of the audience would be that way, no? I hope you can take comfort in that. Just knowing that you are an editor AND a published author does put you above a lot of us newbies! I’d be taking notes!

    As someone who sings and speaks, I promise it gets easier and easier. You always get butterflies, but they fly away very quickly!

    I admire you and have really enjoyed getting to know you. I’ll be praying for you and your next speaking engagement.

    Like

    • pprmint777 says:

      Goodness, you make me sound important! So far, my only “publication” is a few articles in Christian Romance Magazine (but I hope my book comes out next year).

      Thanks for the sweet words and encouragement, Kat. You’re such a treasure!

      Like

  7. K.M. Weiland says:

    You’ll do marvelously – just like you have with everything else you’ve tackled. You’ve been such a great help and encouragement to me in my writing that I’m sure you’ll knock the socks off those writers’ groups!

    Like

  8. E G Lewis says:

    Wonderful post, Linda. If there’s anyone (other than a blowhard politician) who’s comfortable with public speaking, I’ve never met them.

    True, there will always be some who know more and some who know less. The one unique thing that each of has is our viewpoint. You can share an insight that perhaps even a #1 NYT best-selling author has never had.

    “…do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.”

    Peace and Blessings

    Like

    • pprmint777 says:

      Terrific verse for the occasion, Ed. Thanks for reminding me. I’ll repeat it often and ask for His presence on the day!

      Thanks for the encouragement!

      Like

  9. Liberty says:

    Great post! I can certainly relate. I’m on the board of directors for an organization–in charge of their communications committee!–and I’ll barely say anything in our board meetings because I’m so shy, even though I’ve known most of the other board members for close to a decade.

    As for the writing aspect, I’ve been there. I remember the first time I went to a critique group–I was so sure the other people would tell me how wonderful my writing was, that I should be published now, etc., etc. Well, they hated my writing, and while they were kind about it, I had to suck it up, deal with their criticisms, realize they were right–and make myself a better writer. I felt the same way when I first posted a couple of chapters of my book at CW, but was grateful that the few that pointed out my weak points were brave enough to do so!

    Like

    • pprmint777 says:

      Liberty, I think it’s a universal experience–the first time we let others read what we’ve created. I want to hear from the person who wrote a publishable book on their first try! But it’s a great learning experience if we accept it as such.

      Thanks for your comment!

      Like

  10. Lorna G. Poston says:

    I don’t know if I could ever speak to a group. Kudos. You’ll do great. 🙂

    But as for your writing experience, it sounds too familiar. When I first found CW, I thought I was so talented and everyone would be impressed with my writing.

    Well, that wasn’t how it turned out. I was horrible. Since then, I’ve learned a lot. I’m still not perfect and I know there is still much to learn. But I do hope there is an improvement. 😉

    Like

    • pprmint777 says:

      You have grown so much as a writer, I’m just amazed! It won’t be long before you’ll be putting out the next CBA best seller!!!

      Like

  11. Tracy Krauss says:

    Oh, how I can relate! It seems that for a lot of us, it is the promotional train we’re riding that has us squirming – not just because of the squeamishness that comes from ‘putting yourself out there’, but also the overload of all the networking that seems to be necessary. What ever happened to sitting by the lake with a cool iced tea and just letting the words flow?!?

    http://www.tracykraussexpressionexpress.blogspot.com

    Like

    • pprmint777 says:

      You’re so right, Tracy–the “overload of all the networking” is what zaps most of my time! I get a kick out of meeting new people and visiting with old friends, but I need to exercise some self-control, or I’ll spend all my time chatting!

      I’ve got a pond and some lemonade–wanna come sit with me and let some words flow??? 😀

      Like

  12. Lorna G. Poston says:

    Wow! Thanks, Linda. My WIP has a scene that is a little edgy for CBA, but maybe someone will like it. 😀

    Like

  13. I can identify with much of what you say. When I started, I also thought I had perfect novels to offer, a lifetime of writing wisdom to share with others, while considering the meager suggestions of others. How was I to know I’d be meeting not only other writers, but experienced editors, publishers, and multi-book authors as well?

    Like you said, Linda, I knew next to nothing compared to what these people had to offer. But thank God I’ve been listening and applying what I learn to my own craft. “Savage Worlds” is a much better story now than four years ago, and I’m still learning.

    Thank you for a great, honest post. God bless you.

    ~ VT

    Like

    • pprmint777 says:

      Isn’t that the way? The book I’d written when I joined CW is sitting in a drawer now–it really was sad. Too sad to fiddle with further, so I started on a new one (now also sitting in a drawer).

      But we learned, didn’t we?!

      God bless you, too!!!

      Like

  14. A quote I’ve recently ran across: “It’s none of our business what other people think of us.” That’s so true–we just need to do what God wants us to and forget about what other people think of us for doing it. Although that’s not easy! I’ve been reading and enjoying your blog for a while now. Great post!

    Like

  15. pprmint777 says:

    Sheila, thanks for being a reader. What a sweetheart you are!

    That’s a terrific quote, too. It’s not an easy attitude to live by, but it’s a good philosophy.

    Thank you!

    Like

  16. Thanks for sharing, and congratulations in being asked to speak. That in itself is a huge honour. Perhaps rather than thinking of it as public speaking – just do what writers do best: tell some people a story.

    Like

  17. Nona King says:

    Linda ~ I can commiserate, as I’m sure most (if not all) writers can. =) CW has definitely been a blessing from God, and the wonderful people there are irreplaceable.

    Fantastic post!

    Like

  18. Linda Yezak says:

    I love CW. It has indeed been a blessing from God.

    Thanks for the comment!

    Like

  19. Linda,

    I can relate to all you say about public speaking, especially since I know that’s the way I’m heading, too.

    Congratulations on your Genesis finalist status. I have my fingers crossed for you this fall.

    I hate to trouble you since I missed getting on the blog chain wagon fast enough, but please add my blog link to your blog chain listing, http://waysinger.blogspot.com.

    Like

    • Linda Yezak says:

      Janalyn, I’m excited for you about your book. I hope God blesses you with tons of sales!

      No problem with putting you on my bloglist. Glad you’re participating!

      Like

  20. TraciB says:

    Great post, Linda. Somehow I missed you last night when I was playing catch-up before I post my DZ entry today, but I’m glad I found you.

    I can completely relate. I speak in my church occasionally and participate in our programs, usually through dance or interpretive sign language, and even though I know just about everyone in the congregation, I still get nervous. I can’t imagine what it will be like once I get an agent for my novel and have to start promoting it.

    Thanks for sharing this; it’s comforting to know we all go through these same trials in our pursuit of writing and publication.

    Like

    • Linda Yezak says:

      Traci–I’m glad you stopped by! It’s nice to know even a veteran like you gets nervous in front of a crowd. Vicki told me recently I’ll be speaking for *an hour!* and I’m mortified! Anything I’ve ever presented before didn’t extend beyond 30 minutes–usually less. An hour??? Yikes!!!

      Like

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