Monday, February 21, 2011

Push Yourself Out of the Nest


The majority of writers I know thoroughly enjoy being alone inside of their heads. There's a lot going on in there. World building. Character building. Scene building. Ideas forming. Re-writing. Editing. Plotting. Pacing.

It's a fun place to be. Comfortable and safe.

But today's post is dedicated to the idea of pushing yourself from the coziness of your writer's chair/nest and into potentially uncomfortable moments. Like networking.

Let me start by saying I am not shy. I could give a speech or a presentation in front of 10,000 people just fine. But meeting people for the first time in small groups isn't one of my most favorite things (If I'm with a friend or a sister or my husband, I'm good.) What can I say? I'm complicated. Most human beings are.

Despite "being alone when meeting people for the first time" not being super comfy for me, I still force myself to do it. The first two times I went to SCBWI's Winter Conference in NYC, I went completely alone. Didn't know a soul. Was I nail-biting-nervous multiple times per day? Heck yes.

But I still did it.

And I ended up meeting fellow writers, Ron Smith, Kimberly Sabatini, Alexandra Alger & Sandra Nickel - all of whom I have kept in touch with. I sat with strangers at lunch and sat with a woman who'd been querying for sixteen years. And she was still smiling. I heard other writers' stories. Asked questions. Exchanged business cards.

Talked with strangers. Networked. Even met industry people.

Lest you think this is a public pat on my own back, think again. I don't think I'm great, trust me. The whole point of me sharing my "out of the writer's nest" moment is to hopefully push any of you nesters from yours.

Get out there and meet people. Share your stories. Ask your questions. Listen in. People watch. Be present.

It'll make you a better writer.

P.S. The idea for my debut novel EVERYTHING'S NOT LOST came from a "lunch table conversation" I listened to at my second SCBWI conference. A couple of writers were talking about books written from two perspectives (something I had never considered writing before). I went back to my hotel room and made a T-chart of possible interesting characters. A bully and his victim.