Write Anywhere #63

Write Anywhere is a weekly challenge to realize we can discover the fuel for creativity any place we choose. I love finding different places to get inspired and write, then sharing my experience with you on Fridays. Some weeks aren’t as conducive to exploring, with things like illness or bad weather to keep me close to home. But that’s not a problem when the adventure comes to me. Continue reading

The Introvert’s Guide To Winning Friends and Influencing People (and What Extraverts Can Learn From It)

Cafe de la Paix, Constantin Korovine, public domain

‘Cafe de la Paix’, Constantin Korovine, public domain

I suffer from a most curious malady. As a teenager, I was convinced I was abnormal because of it. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve accepted it, and even embraced it. It’s not really a malady, but in the cultural Kardashiverse of look-at-me, social media oversharing, and viral guerilla marketing, it can feel that way.

I am an introvert.

Introverts have a personality bent more inclined to solitude and thinking. Some introverts are shy as well, but not all introverts are shy. Some just prefer quiet activities, their own company or the company of a few familiar friends. Their personality type craves solitude and can be drained by too much social interaction or stimuli in general.

Sometimes a stigma is attached to this type of behavior; introverts have been considered ‘painfully shy’, ‘anti-social’, ‘withdrawn’, ‘depressed’, or even ‘arrogant and stuck-up’.

Introverts make up about 40% of the general population, 60% of the gifted population, and 75% of those who consider themselves a creative or artistic person. If you’re not an introvert, you probably work with one, live with one, or will be sitting next to one at your next social activity.

Introversion and extroversion are not cut and dried. As with many personality traits, most people are a combination on the spectrum. Not surprisingly, a majority of writers consider themselves introverts. Writing is a perfect introvert activity.

However, when it comes to interacting with others in places like writing groups, writing conferences, or Heaven forbid, speaking in front of a book club or other group, some writers would prefer a root canal.With conference season coming upon us and writing groups always on our radar, what’s a dyed-in-the-wool introvert to do to connect in the writing community?

  • Stretch yourself

It’s hard to talk to someone you don’t know, whether in person or on social media. You don’t think you’ll have anything interesting to say. You overthink it. It’s easier to keep to yourself, lurk on blogs and Facebook pages. Find a way to be a part of the conversation. Take a chance and say hello. It may be the start of a mutually encouraging relationship.  Ask the other person about him/herself. People like to talk about themselves. When in doubt, these two questions will always get writers talking: What do you like to write? What are you working on right now?

  • View connecting with other writers as missionary work

Whether you call it sowing seeds, creating good karma, or paying it forward, reaching out to other writers, especially beginners, may seem like effort you don’t want to put forth. You never know when those good efforts will pay in a connection at the right time, a supportive word when you need it, or even a book sale. Not to mention the gratification you will receive by encouraging someone else.

  • Give yourself time to think before interaction

Introverts can be intimidated by social interaction because they like to take their time and think about things before they engage in conversation. When you know you will be in a group situation, take the time to think about it ahead of time, even writing down some notes to help you start a conversation. You don’t have to actually use your crib notes, but just thinking it through will help you feel more confident when you interact with people.

  • Connect authentically with one person

Introverts are usually good listeners, and deep thinkers. Use your skills to your advantage. Choose one person in a gathering and connect. Spend focused time listening, and giving thoughtful responses. The person will appreciate your undivided attention. You won’t be overwhelmed when you focus on the individual.

  • Smile

If you can’t bring yourself to interact at an activity or social function, smile. Your pearly whites will be a signal to others that you acknowledge their existence, and they might take the initiative and come talk to you. You can also accomplish this in the virtual world of social media by ‘liking’ posts on Facebook,  1 plussing posts on Google+ or retweeting others’ tweets on Twitter.

What if you’re not an introvert?

If you are an extravert, remember, in your writing group, workshop or writing class sits an introvert, probably right next to you. Do them a favor and smile, invite them to sit with you and your friends, ask them what they like to write. First, you’ll probably see them breathe a sigh of relief, and return the favor with some interesting conversation, or if you’re lucky, you’ll gain a good companion on the writing journey.

Introverts: Need more encouragement that introversion is not a ‘malady’?

Watch Susan Cain’s TED Talk The Power of Introverts

Introverts: Have you ever felt ‘abnormal’ for being an introvert? Do you have any tricks to avoid being overwhelmed by social situations?

The Digital Age of The Writer: Review of WANACon

'Speaking', courtesy chiarapassa, Creative Commons

‘Speaking’, courtesy chiarapassa, Creative Commons

by Kristin Nador/@KristinNador

Last weekend I attended the first all-digital writing conference WANACon, produced by Kristen Lamb and her WANA International group. If you’re not familiar with WANA, it stands for We Are Not Alone, and refers to an attitude of service and support among writers while making career choices for success. Check out either of Kristen’s books We Are Not Alone: The Writer’s Guide To Social Media and Are You There Blog? It’s Me, Writer for more insight into the WANA way.

I wanted to give a review of this conference, as it was history-making event. If you want a technical overview with screen shots, check out Kristen’s post:

All You Ever Wanted To Know About The Writing Conference of the Future – WANACon

screen-shot-2013-02-05-at-11-43-46-am

It started with a simple click to PayPal to pay and register. Then I was notified by email of the passwords needed to ‘enter’ the conference. Another click on the link, enter the password, and there I was, socializing with my fellow conference attendees in the ‘lobby’ while still at home relaxing in my sweats. We got to know one another through a group IM chat. Attendees came from all parts of the U.S. and the world. How often does this Okie girl get to hang out with people in Australia and Saudi Arabia? That was kind of cool.

The conference started on a Thursday evening and ran each day through Sunday. At the scheduled times, we ‘entered’ the virtual classrooms. There were two classrooms: one for classes and one for agent pitches. Yes, just like at live writing conferences, you could sign up to pitch to an agent. You had the ability to IM chat, ask questions with audio, or show everyone your lovely face with video.

During a workshop if you had a question, a click of a button let you ‘raise your hand’. After a class ended, we herded back out into the ‘lobby’ to schmooze until the next one. The classes covered all the information you’d expect to find at a writing conference: writing craft, publishing trends, social media platforms, e-books.

Just like a live writing conference, I soaked in information until it oozed out of my brain. The top epiphanies swirling around in my head right now:

“What is your business model?” (Yes, authors, you are a business.)

“Sell the hook, not the book.”

“Always be a professional.”

“Define your dreams.”

“Agents ARE looking at your social media platform.”

“Invest in cover art: we do judge a book by its cover.”

“What do you want social media to do for you? Figure it out, then you can make it happen.”

“A villain is the hero of his own journey.”

“Do the research. If you don’t, others will and slam you for it.”

“What’s my word cloud?”

Lest you think it was all business and no fun, hilarity abounded in the comments, and Sunday was ‘Pajama Day’ and those brave enough showed up on their video cameras or snapped a photo and entered the ‘PajamaCon’ contest. I learned a lot, made some friends, and felt I got my money’s worth. All from the comfort of my own house. Being able to attend from my own home is a special help to me right now, as I continue to go through physical therapy, and travel is not good for my condition at all.

To sum up, here are my pros and cons for a digital writing conference:

Pros:

  • Save on travel costs
  • Schedule availability
  • Can continue with everyday life (I didn’t have to get a cat sitter)
  • Advantage for those with physical disabilities or other special health needs
  • Save money on restaurants, bars, cabs, and the like
  • No rubber chicken dinners (unless you cook rubber chickens like I do)
  • No box lunches
  • Pajamas!
  • Won’t mess up your diet (unless you want to)
  • Easier to engage in in-depth conversations with others that can be hard for introverts to initiate
  • Already on your computer so you can follow along and put into practice what you learn about social media
  • Can take important calls or emails if you need to
  • No worries about long bathroom lines
  • Pajamas!
  • No need to cancel attendance for weather reasons
  • Don’t have to sit in airports
  • No DUIs (Friendly PSA: NEVER Drink and Drive)
  • If you miss a session, there’s a recording for that
  • Pajamas!

Cons:

  • Occassional audio issues, but nothing that wasn’t quickly fixed by TechGuy extraordinaire Jay
  • Conversations in the IM chat box during a presentation can be distracting if you’re easily distracted (like me) – all those conversations wouldn’t be happening in a live event without lots of stink eyes being thrown around – but an easy fix of closing the chat box can help you regain focus
  • If presenters are a little less tech-savvy, they can miss questions from the audience, but a good moderator makes it all seamless. (Yes, I’m talking to you, Jami Gold. You rocked it!)

WANA International will be offering more online conferences in the future. Will online conferences take the place of the traditional writing conference? I don’t think so, and we should continue to support them. With information in the publishing business changing as fast as you can say Jeff Bezos, online conferences may be a good way to supplement in person conferences to keep abreast of what’s happening.

I’ll be attending an in-person writing conference in Oklahoma this year, but I’ll be looking forward to the next WANACon as well.

Find out what other participants thought of WANACon:

My sincere thanks to all involved with WANACon. It was great. I’ll be back.

Do you like writing conferences? What are your pro/con list for an in-person writing conference? Would you consider attending an online writing conference?