You know what I like about being a writer? I get to sit behind my computer and shut the world out. But no matter who you are or what you do, at some point you will have to face the real world in a scary way. Yup. Talking to strangers. (This is the point where I draw all the curtains and bury my head under a cushion while humming.)
We all have different reasons for wanting to meet new people. We may be networking to promote a business or book, or perhaps we feel the need for new friends. Over the last few weeks a lot of crap has been happening in my life. The dust is now settling and my mind is whirring. Maybe it’s time I got out into the big wide world and met new people.
I have my own reasons for wanting to go out and meet new people but I tell you this now because there are excellent reasons why us quiet and shy writers should go out into the world more often.
- The more people you meet, the more exposed to the world you become. And that’s what we all write about – the world, its issues and the people who call it home (even if we write fantasy).
- You never know where your next hit of inspiration will come from. It could be an overheard conversation, while getting to know someone or spotting something on the way to meeting new people.
- What if that new person you meet is your new best friend, or works in publishing, or knows an agent. Or is an agent! Or a graphic designer who will become your new illustrator or cover designer!
Great! Except that the very notion of going somewhere alone where others will know each other terrifies me. So I did what every writer probably does in this situation. I researched! Good old Google.
I’ve been a member of Meetup since March last year (apparently), although I’ve never attended any actual meet up. So I started there. If I were to go out, where would I go? I found one meet up that’s happening in August that seems to be just what I’m looking for. Eep!
Next I Googled about overcoming that fear of going somewhere alone and meeting a room full of strangers. I’ve been battling this type of shyness my whole life, so I already knew the answers from experience. But it’s good to have it reinforced.
- Basically, everyone is as nervous as you.
- Plus, everyone is the centre of their own world. While you might think all eyes are on you, everyone’s thoughts are actually about themselves.
- And lastly, if you act confident long enough you will become confident. Work hard at convincing others and you’ll convince yourself.
All of these things work. I’ve tried them.
But still, going to a social meeting of like-minded people all by myself is still terrifying. And made more terrifying by the fact that I blush. I don’t mean that I blush when someone asks something personal like when I last had sex (actual example and not helped by someone laughing and saying loudly ‘Jen! You’ve gone bright red!’). I mean that I blush when someone asks me what I do for a living. Yup, something as innocent as that and suddenly I’m burning up.
Again, Google reminded me of what I already knew. It doesn’t matter if you blush. Ignore it, don’t let it control you and eventually it’ll go away.
And if the worst happens? If you turn up and no one wants to know you, or you turn up and everyone’s horrible? Then you just walk out. You don’t owe anyone anything, and this is an experiment. If it’s not working then at least you tried. You make your excuses and go home, back to your computer and stories, draw the curtains and sink back into your own world feeling proud of yourself.
So that’s how going out and meeting new people works. In theory. Will I be brave and do it? Maybe. We’ll see…
How do you feel about meeting new people?