The Anxious Author

3 Skills Anxious Authors Need to Hone

Anxiety makes day-to-day life a little more challenging.

Socialising, public speaking and sometimes even thinking. It’s not always easy to think clearly when your brain has a tendency to conjure up absurd (if rather impressive) worst- case scenarios.

Anxious Authors are especially challenged by their work. The act of creating a book is, while not easy, the most enjoyable part of releasing a book. Marketing, the other essential element of steady book sales, can be a challenge for authors with anxiety. Even authors who are traditionally published are expected to do some “heavy lifting” in the marketing department. It’s a necessary evil to say the least.

The big question is, why is marketing so difficult for Anxious Authors?

We just don’t have time for an answer that long, so here are the cliff notes: Anxious Authors are often socially anxious. That means we worry a lot about whether we’ve offended people, if we’re coming across as big-headed or that we have given people the wrong impression about something. Marketing is all about selling yourself and your product. So, it’s natural for Anxious Authors to feel a little overwhelmed at the prospect.

But have no fear! While we Anxious Authors struggle sometimes, we have the capacity to grow. If we take the time to hone the skills we struggle with the most, we will be well on our way to taking the next step in our writing careers.

So, what are the skills that Anxious Authors generally need to hone:

1. Public Speaking

Don’t panic!

The idea of standing up in front of a crowd of people and speaking is a terrifying prospect for most people. But Anxious Authors might find this activity especially scary. I’m no mathematician but social anxiety approximately triples with every person staring expectantly at you.

However, the skill of public speaking can give us more confidence to talk to our audiences. Putting ourselves in front of crowds (maybe small ones at first) will terrify/horrify/mortify us to begin with. As uncomfortable (don’t I sound like a doctor?) as speaking in public is, it’s an effective cultivator of confidence and life lessons. If we get it right, we feel more competent. If we don’t, we are anxious and therefore have the best tools to pick apart everything we did wrong and come up with a better strategy for next time.

Speaking to the public is something Anxious Authors need to do in one capacity or another, even if it’s just via a newsletter. It only make sense that we build on this skill.

2. Bragging

Another hugely uncomfortable activity: bragging. Only, I don’t really mean bragging. This is just a strong way to explain that we need to recognise our skills. Anxious Authors are often a lot more talented than they realise because we are so used to down-playing our abilities. Recognising them just feels too much like…bragging!

For some reason, we Anxious Authors feel as though people won’t like us if we announce we are competent. Goodness forbid if we declare we are experts (even if we are). It’s just not something we are often comfortable doing.

I’m not really encouraging you to brag. No, this is an extreme way of saying that we need to recognise what we’re capable of and feel little to no shame in admitting it. It’s not always easy but it will build on our confidence a great deal.

As with anything we find difficult, it’s best to start out small. Recognise our talents in private and remind ourselves that actually, yes, we’re good at what we do. You don’t necessarily have to tell anyone but if you’re applying for a writing-related job or freelancing, a little self-promotion of our skills is pretty much mandatory.

Better yet, recognising what we’re good at can highlight what we need to improve. “Bragging” might seem self-indulgent but it’s an important tool to growing our wider range of writing skills.

3. Relaxing

I’m not just talking about the “breathe for 10 and everything will be all right” kind of relaxing. Anxious Authors have a tendency to over-achieve. We burn the candle at both ends and still get surprised when we burn ourselves out. (Cue the surprised Pikachu meme).

For people like us, who have trouble switching off, relaxing is a skill that needs practice. We need to get into the habit of watching movies with the laptop switched off, even if we need to finish that last scene and we’re behind schedule. Office workers don’t come home from work, switch on their computers and carry on, do they? They crack open a beer and sit down to watch Warrior Nun or something.

Learning how to relax properly might seem indulgent or even time-wasting, but it’s actually an important part of productivity. If we can learn to balance our lives for optimum productivity, we will get further in our careers than we ever dreamed. Turn off the darn computer and read a book!

Thanks for reading!

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