I'm so thrilled to have my fellow Pixie Chick Amanda Brice to the blog. Amanda just released her Golden Heart finaling book, Codename: Dancer, and it's getting rave reviews. It's on my Nook right now, just waiting to be read!
Yes, it’s true. I’m pretty much the antithesis of shy, a total social butterfly. But that’s actually why Rebecca asked me here today.
Dance taught me discipline and poise, but it also taught me confidence. Performing routines on stage in recitals and competitions helped me learn how to project myself, which was excellent practice for public speaking and networking in later years.
When I dance or act in a play, I’m playing a role. I’m no longer Amanda Brice, but rather become whoever my part is that day. Maybe I’m an 1890s can-can dancer. Or a Prohibition-era gangster’s moll. Or a Pink Lady. Or even a toy soldier doll. When I look out at the crowd, I see the faces, but I don’t get nervous because it’s not “me” up there on the stage. It’s my character.
That’s what’s so cool about writing, too. When we write in 1st person or in Deep POV, we’re no longer ourselves but instead get to “become” our characters, even if just for a short period of time. We can really be whoever we want to in that way. Authors get to leave their every day life and play out all their fantasies.
The trick is learning how to let that role play transfer over into your real life, even if it’s just your public writer persona and not the one sitting at home typing on a laptop. When I attend a conference and network with agents and editors (or lobbyists on Capitol Hill), I’m just playing another role. This time that role is the Confident Author (or Confident Attorney, as the case may be). Inside I may not actually feel as confident as the image I’m projecting, but appearances can be deceiving. As long as people think I have it all under control, that’s what matters.
Many of us have a pen name for our writing for various reasons, usually privacy. But it can be helpful when overcoming shyness as well. If [insert real name here] is shy, maybe her alter ego [insert pen name here] is the opposite. She’s beautiful, confident, clever, popular, and very outgoing. Remember, this is role play, not real life. (Not that I’m saying you’re not all of the above things, but you probably don’t realize it yet.)
Never underestimate the importance of costumes when playing a role. Rizzo would be just some tough-talkin’ chick if not for her iconic pink jacket. The Snow Queen would be any old ballerina if not for the snowflake-like white fluffy tutu and crystal tiara. And could you imagine Jennifer Beals wearing anything other than leg warmers and a stretched out sweatshirt in Flashdance? (Admit it…you have “What a Feeling” in your head right now.)
You can do the same when you have a signing. Dress the part. No, I’m not suggesting that you should go out and buy vampire drag if you write Paranormal (although some authors find a lot of success that way), but costuming is an important part of becoming a new character. Do you have an outfit that makes you feel more confident? Then wear it, because while you can certainly be a hermit as a writer, it’s not generally the best way to make fans. (Unless you’re J.D. Salinger, of course.)
Stepping out of your comfort level is never easy, but it’s so important. Sometimes just forcing yourself to meet new people can add to the depth of experience in your writing.
About Amanda: Amanda Brice lives outside of Washington, DC with her husband and toddler daughter. An intellectual property attorney for a large federal government agency, she combines her love of writing with her legal career by speaking on basic copyright and trademark law on the writers’ conference circuit. Her debut novel, Codename: Dancer, was released on April 16, 2011. You can learn more about Amanda and her books at her website.