Public Speaking and the Shy Writer

One of the great ironies of being a writer is that even though we yearn for attention, a large majority of us are actually shy. We want attention paid to our writing, not to ourselves. Our biggest dream growing up was to have other people read what we had to say. We didn’t bargain for anything more. In fact, many of us never considered that we might be asked to speak in public. For us, being published was its own reward. 

However, when we become successful, along with the accolades of having our articles and/or books published, often comes the duty of public speaking. Many writers think to themselves, when approached by their publisher’s marketing team to speak at a public event or attend a book signing, “Egad! I am a writer, not a public speaker!” 

If you are a writer who fits this description, don’t despair, you are in good company. Harper Lee, who wrote TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, became almost as famous for her aversion to public appearances and public speaking as she did for her one and only book. Another famous writer who hated public attention was S.E. Hinton. At the tender age of sixteen, Hinton published the classic novel, THE OUTSIDERS, which became an award-winning movie starring Patrick Swayze, and spent the rest of her life avoiding public attention. 

All of this begs the question; what do you do when public speaking becomes a necessary ingredient for your writing success? 

What many writers discover quickly, once they cross the hurdle of making their first public appearance, is that it is nothing like they expected. They even enjoy it. Some writers embrace public speaking, making it a part of their career and another source of income. They discover the thrill of meeting their readers face-to-face and their fear evaporates. It becomes a joy to them. 

A small percentage of writers never overcome their fear of public speaking. If that’s you, don’t worry, your publisher will find ways around the issue. And just think of the company you keep.

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