I Was a Severely Introverted Writer Who Developed a Voice: Then What?
This is, what some would call, a “first-class problem.” I get it.
However, for most of my life I’ve been immensely shy. Never dated in high school, had my first date in college, very self-conscious at parties (which I’ve strived to avoid and sometimes still do) and when meeting new people in general …
I became noticed as a writer — with very strong opinions — about a decade ago when I began posting on Facebook, everything from thoughts on movies and television, to social issues and writing … to politics.
My Facebook exploded. I became a spokesperson of sorts for “the left,” and in 2016 a louder shill still for voting Trump out of office in the next election. Thing is, many on the other side of the fence began avidly reading my page, and my Trump-loathing self became largely known as someone who at the very least tried to listen to other perspectives.
That much is entirely true. I always try.
I must admit it gets harder by the day for me, due in large part to increasing political polarization in this era of Covid-19, but nonetheless.
Following Facebook’s 5000 friend limit and then several thousand “followers” above that came LinkedIn, where I hit their 30,000 connection limit within the year for similar postings.
My Twitter is weak, as is my Instagram, but along with my Goodreads account and others, I’m not at a loss for readers.
Which has been noticed by those with influence.
For whatever reason, professional networking has long come natural to me. Though an element remains (to this day) of feeling awkward when meeting new people, I ran a film finance-related networking group for 10 years.
Prior to that, I was a special education teacher on and off for a decade.
I’d like to believe some substantial life experience had helped me in both of those regards.
I write and produce TV and film for a living, but the reality behind what I do is misleading. I sell a fair amount of original television … which frequently languishes in development hell. In other words, the programs remain unfilmed. This is not unusual for my business, just frustrating. The industry of entertainment is feast or famine; I’ve earned very large paychecks selling to networks, then watched and waited as … nothing happened.
I certainly cashed the checks though.
When my television projects have been actually completed and released, regardless of size, they were victories worth celebrating.
For films, I’ve produced several independent features; I’d say one has made a dent.
I’ve written four books so far of a fantasy novel series that has achieved critical acclaim, Amazon bestseller status and a highly-publicized network sale … but that too has become mired in development hell.
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Through it all, however, my social media grew, as did acclaim for my essays and articles and subsequent return gazes for previously-submitted creative works.
Those return gazes have effectuated new deals with several film and television companies.
I never give up. It’s not in my nature.
And neither should you.
I have a lot to say, and I found an audience despite my innate shyness. When requests poured in for speaking engagements around the country, based in part on my articles on writing and living the literary life, and in part on my consistent creative work and sales, I had to overcome my hesitancy in a hurry.
You can too. The following are some hacks you can work with if you are a painfully shy creative artist:
- Join an introvert support group (online for now, of course, as with some of these other examples until our current pandemic settles). While the joke is everyone will sit and no one will speak, the truth is it’s a low-stress way to meet new people who have the same social difficulties as do you.
- Allow your work to speak for itself and privately revel in the positive response. If the response is negative, do better next time. If the response if negative but you believe the work is good, follow your muse. Keep going. Perhaps one day the two shall meet.
- Continue to promote your work on social media while developing your own voice, or brand. Engage and interact more with your readers.
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- Take a online public speaking class. There will surely be others there who are doing so to get over their shyness. Besides, you may like it.
- Once it’s safe out there and they again open, visit your local library and offer to speak to patrons about your art. Create a presentation; this is the quick and fairly easy step on the ladder to speak to larger crowds.
- Take an acting course.
- Share and solicit opinions for your work.
- Finally, meeting people online has exploded in popularity of late. Once again, this goes back to social media. Now is the time to make new friends, as we’re by and large still isolated. Give it a shot. Take advantage of your current circumstance. You never know who will become a lifelong friend, or even a romantic companion.
If some of the above, or more, sounds silly to you, just remember one thing … I’ve been there. I understand the pain.
The above points really do work.
Thank you for reading.
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