Do you consider yourself an introvert? I most definitely am, although with age I am becoming more comfortable in social and work situations. From my high school days where I dreaded having to do talks in front of an entire class (one of which was all about dyeing my mum's hair believe it or not), to pitching my business to potential investors (still find it hard to believe I did that), these experiences have never been easy for me and the stress and nerves they caused were pretty awful.
The one thing I wish I'd learned earlier to calm down before something I'm nervous about, is the power of breathing. In particular, belly breathing, where you fill your belly with air and breathe in for 2, out for 4, building up the counts but always the breath out being double the length of the breath taken in. I had heard before the advice to take a deep breath to ease stress, but only when I took part in public speaking training as part of a business pitching event did I fully understand how to do it properly. The science behind why it works, and the benefits can be found in this article:
So, it seems now that I have the nerves more under control, and have built up my confidence and self-belief over the years that I am now much more willing to venture outwith my comfort zone. I suspect many introverts prefer to stick to what they know, and I completely understand that. I guess being at home raising kids for many years, like many parents do, added to my personal reluctance to take risks, or add to stress levels.
However...my blog today aims to inspire you to take the risks, do the stuff that seems scary because who knows where that might lead?
I have 3 recent positive examples from my own experiences to share with you.
Attended my first ever writers retreat, organised by Indie Authors World and held at the fantastic Seamill Hydro Hotel near Largs in Scotland. Three days of writing coaching alongside other authors, fantastic food, beautiful views of the beach with the Isle of Arran in the distance, and a spa. Sheer. Luxury. I came home recharged, re-motivated and confident my writing will improve as a result of being there. On a personal level, I have to say having some space to myself was also wonderful, but I did enjoy the evening meals together with the attendees of the retreat. Who would have guessed that one of us with a vague idea for a book would leave one meal with pretty much a fully developed plot? That's the magic of creative people being around each other. By the way, the book will be fantastic and I really hope this particular writer puts pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard ASAP!!! You know who you are :)
Just look how relaxed and inspired I am in this photo gazing over to the Isle of Arran...
Pitched an idea to my local radio show to host a show interviewing local authors. Cumbernauld FM liked the idea and I now host my weekly show called Bookmarked. If someone had told me a few years ago I'd be doing this, I'd have laughed in their face! It's been a steep learning curve but it's been great so far. Discovered the recording and editing software Audacity and even feel the part now with my headphones with mic. I also enjoy finding music which fits in with the theme of my show, or the books discussed. Just one problem...not enough time to read all the fantastic books I'm finding out about. I know I'm improving my interview skills and it makes me happy to support my local community and help authors gain some much needed exposure. My niece suggested I call myself DJ Cazzy Wazzy, but I resisted the urge. My show airs Wednesdays 10-11am or find it via my Mixcloud page.
Whilst on the writers retreat I received an exciting email inviting me to read a piece of my writing at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival. As so often is the case for me, my delight at this news was equaled with nerves at the thought of actually doing it. However, I know what an amazing opportunity this is, and from past experiences I know on the day I will be absolutely fine. I believe there is to be some training to help me prepare for the big day, so that will also help. I've never actually attended the Edinburgh Book Festival, so I look forward to learning more about it this year. The festival runs from the 13th-29th August, read more about it here:
Hopefully by sharing my thoughts and experiences I may be able to inspire some other writers to take the plunge and push through the fears to discover the possibilities that lie just outwith your comfort zone. Any tips to share?