Five Reasons to Call Yourself a Writer and How I Did It

I have been a writer since 1966. I was in middle school at the time. I wrote about two things that affected me then: entering puberty (and everything that goes with it), and science fiction. You can probably guess how those two went together. I asked my mom to read one of them, and, though she didn't show it, I am sure she was scandalized that her own daughter could write such things. It wasn't until the 1980s that I took the bold step of calling myself a Writer. I call it a bold step because I had very little self-confidence. But, I was tired of hiding my talent, gift, calling, whatever you want to call it. I decided that hiding my ability/desire was more painful and embarrassing than admitting it, and I wanted people to know. So, in conversations I began to say, 'I am a Writer.' (And, yes, I did say it with a capital letter.)

Usually, people were polite and asked me what I wrote, but there were some folks that would challenge me with: 'Oh, are you published?' Sometimes that means: 'I only believe you can call yourself a writer if you are published.' So, I would reply, 'Not yet, but give it time!' Then of course I would walk away feeling disgruntled because I was not published, and I could not rub it in their faces by saying 'yes' to their challenge. That did a couple of things to me:

First, it made me begin to analyze my reasons for writing and whether I ultimately had publishing as a goal.
Second, it made me look more critically at my craft, to determine how I could make it better, so I could be published.

There are many reasons to call yourself a writer, but if you are not calling yourself a writer when you know you are one, figure out why. Is it because you don't feel qualified to the title? Why not? Maybe through self analysis you can come to a decision that you are a writer, no matter what anyone else thinks, and that you deserve to be called the owner of your craft. The reasons below are the ones that freed me from censoring myself.

Reasons for calling yourself a writer:
  1. You love to write, and you do so (whether you are published or not).
  2. You read all there is (or all you can afford) about being a good writer and honing your craft.
  3. You take those suggestions and learn how to use them in your writing.
  4. You have partial or finished manuscripts laying in a drawer somewhere.
  5. All of the above is true, even if you have no intention of sharing your work with anyone.

We are all afraid of something, but don't let owning the moniker 'Writer' be one of them.


How to Manage Stage-Fright while Speaking Before An Audience

Image by kibsri

The first time I spoke before an audience I was in a little makeshift cafe at a Christian campground. I stood before the students who comprised the Inter-varsity Christian Fellowship in my area. I was, perhaps twenty years old. My motivation was to show the world, and everyone there, that I was good at playing the guitar and putting poetry to music. It was, of course, terrifying. There might have been sixty people there. They were all talking, most were not paying much attention to me, which on one hand was irritating and on the other it prevented me from running off screaming into the night.

My hands were sweaty, my mouth was dry, my voice wavered, my hands shook, but I was motivated. I was motivated by the desire to be looked up to, thought well of, and to receive affirmation. I received non of those things, of course, but it did one very important thing for me: it showed me that I could do it. No matter how badly or how well I performed, I survived. It began a trend in my life that I believe God used, not only to teach me, but to minister to others.

Now that I am more experienced, I can tell you some of the things I have learned:
  • Everyone gets stage-fright. Even the ones who say they don't and the ones who look composed are afflicted with it. It tends to get better and less distressing with experience, but, it probably will not go away completely.
  • There are ways to keep from being crippled by stage-fright. Mind games help. Such as: the old idea to imagine your audience sitting in their underwear or if someone is on stage with you, you can imagine that the audience is really looking at the other person. 
  • Be prepared in the extreme. Make an outline (or list) of points you want to address and the tasks you are to complete, such as:
    • Do you have to adhere to a prescribed agenda?
    • Will you introduce another speaker?
    • Will you interact with others who will carry out your directions?
    • Make a list, in chronological order, to which to adhere.
    • As you begin each one, check off the tasks you need to complete so that you don't forget where you are in the agenda or get the tasks out of order.
  • Another way to manage stage-fright is to practice, practice, practice. If you know what you are going to say and are familiar with the list of tasks and points, your level of anxiety will be much lower. When I was to present a mini-seminar on professionalism and customer service, I practiced my outline over and over for two weeks. Doing this helped me remember what I was going to speak about and it helped me see where my subject was weak.
  • Believe in yourself and believe in your message. It's not just cliché. You can change your self-image through self-talk. Also, the more you practice your presentation, the more you will generate self-confidence. 
Next week we'll explore the power the audience gives you just by attending your event.

 Have you ever spoken before an audience? What was it like the first time? How long have you been doing it? Please, comment and share your experiences.




That for Which I Am Grateful

Courtesy of Nicholas Tarling. freedigitalphotos.net
We all benefit from gratitude. Sometimes we forget to think about what we are thankful for. The world and all of its noises, stresses, cares, and distractions often get in the way. Often, we have to be reminded about the blessings that daily have been loaded upon us. That's when it is good to give thanks.

While I was drafting this list, I was reminded of so many other things I am grateful for that I did not list. They aren't on the list only because they would make the list so long that it wouldn't be feasible for a blog post, but for a book! So here is my small sampling:
  • people who love me and accept me and my flaws
  • for running hot water
  • a God who keeps working with me and has never given up
  • my husband of 42 years, who is still enamored with me, and tells me so
  • the fact that I can still get out of bed in the morning
  • that I can actually walk a half mile in one whack! (there was a time that I thought I wouldn’t be able to again)
  • that our children love us
  • all of the help I have received with my writing, my art, and my music
  • the friendship of others, freely given
I could go on, of course, who couldn't?