Guest blogger and award-winning author C. Hope Clark speaks from the heart
I became a novelist to enjoy privacy. My readers do not believe I am an introvert. Instead, they accuse me of being bold, confident, intelligent, and driven, but for the life of me, I do not understand why introverts cannot possess those qualities and remain true to themselves.
I'm pleased to introduce C. Hope Clark as this week's guest blogger for Beyond Introversion. Hope and I connected after I read her inspiring book, The Shy Writer Reborn. I found the book filled a lot of gaps that I'd been working through, both as a writer and an introvert. Hope is doing some amazing things through the Funds For Writers organization as well. I hope you gain some motivation through her blog and perhaps another wonderful resource for your own personal journey.
My Writing Profession was Borne
My name is C. Hope Clark, and I’ve been a novelist and a writing coach for an award-winning website (FundsforWriters.com) over twenty years. Being authentic is a mandatory component of my career, my style, my life, and ultimately my success. Most people cherish legitimacy, abhor fake, and endorse those who are genuine. The more genuine I present, the easier my role, but for some reason the more extroverted my readers believe me to be. But that’s fine. The bigger point is that they feel a connection, and with a connection comes book sales.
I left a director’s position with the federal government to write fulltime. I enjoyed writing, loved it actually, and so much good in my life had been affiliated with how well I’ve written. Word choice was a talent I’d groomed incessantly since a child.
The secondary reasoning behind writing fulltime was the solitude. I am indeed my own best company. The truest litmus test of introvert or extrovert is how long they love being alone with themselves. Getting lost in words or nature could carry me to the end of my days.
However, in my new profession, I soon learned writing meant promotion, unless I wrote solely for self-enjoyment. The profession required networking with agents, editors, publishers, bookstore managers, and, yes, readers that hopefully morphed into long-term fans. The more titles I sold was directly impacted by how often I exposed myself to people.
So early on in my writing career, I dusted off protective habits I’d once used through presentations while quaking in my low-heeled pumps, back when failure wasn’t an option to an agency director. But being my own boss, the buck stopped with me and no one else. I couldn’t imagine failure creeping back in.
Being an introvert doesn’t necessarily make you a weenie as so many misinterpret. As in my previous job, I chose to capitalize on my introverted self to make myself strategic, wily, and efficient . . . while preserving my true self.
In other words, I would do what I had to do in order to not only enjoy my writing career, but to achieve success with it as well. No selling my soul or honing a pretense. What people saw would be me in all its glory, and not make me lie about myself.
Four Pillars for Happiness & Success
1. Think Yes Before No.
My natural nature was to turn down events. I instinctively sought excuses not to appear, and, believe me, they came easily to mind. In teaching myself not to immediately act on those impulses, I developed a pact to accept every appearance unless the event would reflect badly on me as a person. An automatic yes in my head, unless the event would damage my brand. Begrudgingly at first, going against the grain, I forced public appearances, podcasts, blogs, and interviews.
2. Be Genuine.
Strength without a lot of noise. I showed up as me, not a character, not an actor, and not a plastic brand, and most assuredly as the best me. Dressing professionally yet comfortably ramped up my self-esteem. Looking my finest meant my energy could be channeled into the action of my performance, not the look.
Ample preparation, repeated practice, better enabled me to operate without concentrated effort. Less chance for a performance to go wrong if I made it rote and practically secondary to breathing.
By being uber well-prepared, however, I learned an even bigger lesson. Arriving prepped, able to function with little thought, did more than diminish the chance for mistakes. Coming prepared allowed the natural me to shine. Being confident in self, inside and out, enabled me to speak normally. Before long, I spoke with minimal notes, as if to friends. My talks turned conversational, my delivery easy, inherent, and yes, even humorous. Excising fake from the equation, the real me functioned with much less fear.
People want a real you. In your writing, in your podcasts, in your talks, in whatever role you own. The world is full of deception. Trick them, and they’re done with you. Be genuine and represent as a friend, and they are all yours.
3. Making It More About Them Than Yourself
Worrying about yourself and focusing on what doesn’t feel good or can go wrong, robs you of strength and momentum. Charisma is the ability to make someone else feel attracted to you, whether online, in writing, or in person. The best way to draw people is to express sincere appreciation for them.
Instead of worrying about making a mistake, put yourself in the shoes of your attendees. They admire you for being who you are. And if you make a mistake, guess what?
First, they empathize. They don’t hope you’ll make a mistake and will instead view you as one of them.
Second, they are thankful they are not you, though in a small way they do. That’s you on the stage, in publication, or at that microphone, not them. They admire you and appreciate you for enduring that performance for them.
Also, look them in the eye. You’ll soon learn this choice is easier than hunting for someplace else to stare. If you have coffee with one person, you make eye contact without a second thought. The same mentality works for any number in an audience. Pick a set of eyes and connect, finishing your sentence or thought. Shift to another and do it again. The room shrinks, the tension lessens, and you find a comfort level.
Let’s say you are audio without visual. Find a focal point and smile while talking. Some hang a mirror to maintain that smile. People hear smiles, and in comes that charisma.
And let’s say you are writing to this audience. What would help them, entertain them, or offer relief to their day? Those are the words you want to write. Writing what you like to write is only part of a writer’s job. If it doesn’t touch the hearts of the readers, then what good is it?
4. Banning Deprecating Self-Talk
The insecure fill their vocabulary with words like just, only, but, never, and not in an effort to lessen the sting of criticism. These words come when you see an opportunity that scares you, or you pre-emptively seek an excuse. It’s called hobbling so that others can’t point fingers first.
“I’m just a debut novelist.”
“If only I’d started writing earlier in life. It’s why I’m only where I am as an author.”
“I’m not nearly as prominent as her and will never be known in those circles.”
Ban those words from your mouth and thoughts. Revamp negative thoughts to positive, which you find easily done without just, only, but, never, and not. In writing, most of these words are considered weak. Just as you’d edit them in a paper, edit them from your speech and thought.
An introvert is an admirable quality in a person. They think before speaking, strategize in all aspects of their lives, and their relationships run deep. They analyze people, often before jumping to conclusions. But the strongest introverts develop methods to not think about introversion. The successful strive to become their most comfortable self, and sometimes it takes little habits like these to enable you to be strong, confident, and yes, admired.
C. Hope Clark is an award-winning author of two mystery series and eleven novels.
She’s spoken at conferences, book clubs, schools, and libraries across the country as well as guest blogged and performed podcasts hundreds of times. She is also founder of FundsforWriters.com, a website for serious writers that has been chosen by Writer’s Digest’s 101 Best Websites for Writers for twenty years straight.
NEXT WEEK: Pointers for Introverted Parents