You Might Be a Shy Writer If...

Please welcome romance author Jill James to the blog. Jill recently sold Tempting Adam, a contemporary romance, to The Wild Rose Press.

You Might Be a Shy Writer If . . .
(Borrowed shamelessly from Jeff Foxworthy)

. . . You use your children to ask questions of the salesclerk at the store.

. . . You need your husband to give you lessons on how to talk to people on the phone.

. . . You think a few drinks at RWA National to loosen you up are a good thing.

In my case, all of the above is a true statement. For years, my painful shyness caused me to use my children to ask questions, to not be able to talk to people on the telephone, and to think a drink or two or more was a good idea.

Any true introvert knows that the extrovert that comes out after a few drinks is not a good one. A true extrovert is friendly, outgoing, and knows how to act in public.

At my first RWA National in Reno I was painfully shy. I used to joke that I would rather face a firing squad than speak in public. That doesn’t mean a speech. I’m talking about talking to others in public. Unfortunately, some introverts are not experienced in the public arena so we say stuff and do stuff we wish we could desperately take back.

So, some hints to be just a little extroverted.

1. Ask others questions that they will like to answer and leave you free to just nod and listen. For example: what are you working on? How are you enjoying the conference?

2. Compliment their wardrobe. Be sincere. Mean it when you say you like a necklace, earrings, or dress.

3. Be confident. At any large gathering of writers, we introverts have the numbers. Remember lots of agents and editors are introverts too.

So, readers, what hints do YOU have that make you feel more extroverted and outgoing?

Jill has loved to write since she first began putting on puppet shows in her garage for a nickel a person. Her first love was poetry until she picked up her first romance novel, after that it was all romance. She writes contemporary romance, romantic suspense and paranormal romance. She is a member of RWA since 2004 and a member of the From The Heart chapter, Black Diamond chapter, Kiss of Death chapter, and ESPAN chapter. She has been writing romance for a few years with a few poetry contest wins and a published short story, Lunch Break. When Jill isn’t writing you will find her reading, her other passion. She lives in Northern California with her husband, who is the inspiration for all her heroes.

You can find Jill James at her website, Facebook, and Twitter.


  1. I'm having the problem of a phone conversation myself right now: I emailed someone with questions to help in some research I'm doing and, instead of emailing back, he sent me his phone number! Not only do I have to talk to him, I have to be the one to call. I'm working through it by trying to figure out exactly what it is that has me spooked. Am I nervous about what to ask? Sounding stupid? Being laughed at? Intimidated by what he does? While trying to remind myself that the man gave up his phone number to help me so he must actually want to help me. I'll get to it. I will. Just not yet.

  2. Jill--thanks so much for the post. I'm sure my readers will be able to relate.

    I'm with you and Missy--the phone calls are a killer. Why is that?

  3. Those are good tips. Asking questions of others is such a great way to get comfortable in any situation :)

  4. Rebecca, thanks for having me here. You are the first person to call me a romance 'author'. Been a writer for so long, that is still taking some getting used to.

    "Phone calls" I just draw a blank on how to start the conversation. "Hello" is a given, then I'm lost. LOL I did a lot of practice in the beginning with me in the house alone, so I wouldn't be embarassed, then I unplugged the phone and practiced talking into it,then I wrote a script so I knew exactly what I was going to say.

    I got so good on the phone that I was another author's assistant and called all the managers of Barnes & Noble in Southern California to arrange drive-by signings for her and a friend. Baptism by fire. LOL

  5. I think the script sounds like a good idea. But it's kind of limited to the phone. My problem is I talk too much, so I guess I'm not much help. Sometimes when meeting a new person I try to find an association with their name. Though my goal is to remember the name, if you do come up with something, it can be an icebreaker. Oh, your name is Smith. Do you know the Smiths on Mars? There are good questions you can always ask. How do you know the host? Do you live in this area? What genre do you write in? I'm not keen on meeting lots of strangers at large parties though.

  6. Jill James, romance author.
    Jill James, romance author.
    Jill James, romance author.
    Feel real yet?


  7. I'm glad I found this blog because I'm such a shy writer. I always ask my dh to help me make important phone calls. It helps when I ask others questions because I'm a better listener than talker.

  8. Carly, I've found that introverts sometimes talk too much. We get nervous and don't know what else to do because it is not a constant situation. I have to work on eye contact too, that helps me remember names by really concentrating on their faces.

  9. Rebecca, thank you it is starting to sink in. :)

  10. Jena, my husband is a tough cop so he had no sympathy with my phone phobia. It was kinda sink or swim time. Every few days he would give me a phone call or two I had to make that day. Kinda like immersion therapy. LOL

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  12. I like your post. It's always nice to realize I'm not the only one.

    I do okay in crowds of four or less. It's after that that I'm lost and--I hate to admit this--almost afraid.

  13. Liz, it is okay to be afraid. Large crowds are scary. And yes, you are definitely not the only one, or Rebecca wouldn't need such a nice website for us to visit.

    I'm really enjoying knowing I'm not the only one too.

  14. These are great tips. I think asking questions is the best advise I've ever gotten... I also try to remind myself that not everyone is as comfortable and at ease as they look, so maybe I don't look as uncomfortable as I feel... if that makes sense. LOL.

  15. Hi Jill! These are great tips. I haven't been to Nationals but I am sure to remember what you said. I'm not shy, but when I get around big named authors...I tend to be a little/lot less vocal!

  16. Hi Jill,

    I'm an extravert, but I can't talk on the phone to a stranger for anything, especially if it's business related. It has something to do with a faceless voice. I think.

    My sister was an introvert when she was young, but she outgrew the problem. I find I'm becoming a little less extraverted, and I think it has to do with working alone so much.

    Everyone becomes tonguetied at times. lol I'm glad you have some tips to share with us to loosen us up besides alcohol. lol

  17. Lynne, you hit the nail on the head. We don't look as uncomforable as we feel. Relax and know everyone is not staring at you.

  18. Tonya, National conference is a world onto itself. Not for the faint of heart. 2100 writers is one spot is very intimidating. For very shy writers I recommend smaller, local conferences first, to get your feet wet.

  19. Sandy, LOL. Yes, I've learned there are better ways to be extroverted than a drink, or two, or more.