Why You Should Connect with Other Writers

Tuesday, December 08, 2015
I’m an introvert, plain and simple. Sure, I enjoy conversing with other people well enough, but stick me in a crowd of people I don’t know very well and I clam up pretty easily. Writing conferences intimidate me and I right now don’t belong to any critique groups. So when I was first asked to participate in panel discussion on how to make money freelance writing, I hesitated. I knew the organizer, but not any of the other three panel, which included an award-winning poet and a YA novelist. Would I really be able to sit down and have dinner with several people I didn’t know and then stand in front of 100 or so people and tell my story?

As the day of the event approached I grew more and more nervous. I typed and deleted notes on my topic, writing for magazines. I doubted myself. Did I really have enough experience to be giving advice? But a funny thing happened while I worked on my presentation, which fortunately, was low-tech and didn’t require me to do anything like running a PowerPoint. I looked over how much I have accomplished since I sold my first freelance article back in 2004 and it added up to a pretty well-rounded resume. I was pretty proud of myself, actually.

That confidence waned the night of the event—when I didn’t leave work early enough and got stuck in rush-hour traffic on the way to the restaurant where I was supposed to meet the other panelists for dinner. I arrived late, only to find that both organizers were even later than me, so it all worked out. We left the restaurant and headed over to the church for the event. As the room filled up, my mouth grew dry. We each had about eight minutes to talk, and then there was a Q&A session afterward. I got through my spiel and was surprised when several audience members had questions specifically for me and my "Do's and Don'ts of Pitching Magazines." I found I really enjoyed talking about my experiences in the industry and the time flew by. After the panel was over, I relaxed and chatted with even more of the audience members. In fact, we all had such a great time that the church had to kick us out so they could lock up the building. I guess you could call that a success—plus I got a free dinner and small stipend for my time.

So while it’s hard for me to put myself out there and attend events like these, I do see the benefit and won’t hesitate if I’m asked to do it again. I will also probably be joining the local chapter of the Women’s National Book Association soon, as some very persuasive members were there and did their best to recruit me. Twist my arm.

Renee Roberson is an award-winning freelance writer with a successful business, Finished Pages. She has written hundreds of online and print articles and columns on a variety of topics, and loves to blog about all things related to books, movies, music and celebrity gossip and writing. She also works as a magazine editor and helps authors publicize their books as a blog tour manager for WOW! Women on Writing.
My fellow panelists: Karon Cuddy, Alice Osborn, (me) and Mica Gadhia.


Margo Dill said...

Good job, Renee! That is the way to face your fears. :)

Renee Roberson said...

Thanks, Margo!

Suzanne Lilly said...

Your article struck a chord with me. I'm so shy about doing any kind of presentation...even at my local writers' group meetings. Way to go on getting yourself out there on a panel discussion!

Angela Mackintosh said...

What an awesome experience, Renee! I'm sure it felt GREAT afterward and it's wonderful that you were able to help out writers. You are so talented and have a LOT of experience--more than you give yourself credit for. Thanks for sharing, and love your dress! xo

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