I’ve made it my goal for this year to get out and meet more of my readers.
Whilst this, on the surface, seems perfectly obvious and a natural thing to want to do, I can tell you for sure that, for me, it’s been no easy feat.
Though a natural introvert, at one point, I would have put myself somewhere on the middle of the scale. That’s because, pre children, I worked in office environments that were always communal, I did presentations to clients, there was never a quiet moment. There was never any occasion where you were allowed to give in to your introvert nature.
Then I left that world behind and became a stay-at-home mum. I found myself thrown into a world where I wasn’t at all confident, and increasingly found even such things as parent-toddler groups intimidating. It became much easier to stay at home, literally, in the safety of my own lair with just me and the kids; the place where I felt most comfortable.
Going from this to a work-at-home mum was the natural step. Behind the obvious – that it fit around the kids – was a fear to break away from that comfort zone. I didn’t have the confidence to go back into the working world I had left. I no longer felt I belonged there.
As such, it’s meant I’ve been able to give in to my introvert tendencies, hiding away, in my home office, hiding behind my words and when it comes down to it, almost becoming a hermit!
This all changed with the publication of my first book. As an author, you have to be more than just a writer of words. You have to be active in your own publicity and marketing. That’s a given. And social media alone is not enough. People want to meet the person behind those words and if you’re a children’s author, like I am, it’s your job to get out there and encourage children to love reading and writing.
So I started my own business. Coinciding with us having a studio built in our garden, I began to have a vision of how I could use it as more than an office and this led to me opening my doors to groups of children for creative writing workshops. Such was the success of these workshops, I not only did more, I started doing weekly groups on a termly basis, which I’ve been doing now for almost three years.
I knew that still wasn’t enough though. I was in my own habitat, my comfort zone and that was easy.
I needed to challenge myself further, to get out there, so I joined a networking group. At first, this was terrifying, but before long, I had put myself forward to be one of the speakers at the group sessions. With my confidence returning, I then began to get involved with local schools, the idea of which, had previously seemed an impossibility to me.
Part of my learning process has been to understand how to be an introvert in the modern world. I found Susan Cain’s Ted Talk extremely inspiring, along with her book. I now know what makes me tick. I know how it can be exhausting to be in a room full of people, networking or speaking, but that it can be very rewarding, as long as I appreciate I will be completely drained of energy the following day. But that’s ok. I thought that being an introvert equated with being shy and non-confident, but it doesn’t. My lack of confidence came from being out of the loop for such a long time; something I could easily fix.
So moving forwards, I’ve made it my goal to do as many school visits as I can.
Although initially terrifying, having a group of expectant faces scrutinising your every word, it’s very rewarding working with young children. In addition, it’s inspiring and I’m often blown away with the ideas and words they come up with. The feedback I’ve had about my books has been so positive too and it’s been a confidence boost in itself.
Whilst everything I do outside of the home, be it school visits, networking, workshops, talks, takes me away from my writing, I understand and appreciate its importance. In a way, it has renewed my enthusiasm and spurred me to keep moving forwards. It’s reminded me why I do what I do and why it’s important to continue doing it.
Have you taken yourself out of your comfort zone recently? How did you find it? Will this be part of your goals for this year?
If you would like to know more about my school visits, please contact me. Alternatively, you can see details on my Contact an Author page.