Monday, July 12, 2010

The Spotlight Factor

I have a theory about writers. We crave attention but loathe the spotlight.

I know, I know, I shouldn't stereotype, shouldn't generalize such a diverse and enormous group of people, but why do we choose writing as our outlet? Why not acting? Singing? Even autioneering?

I can only speak for myself. I want to be heard but don't always know how to say what I feel.

Many writers are shy and would rather lick two-day-old raw meat than speak in front of a group of people. Some aren't comfortable even in a group of people. Yet, these same writers express themselves with jaw-dropping clarity on paper.

It's not that we're anti-social or shriveled up in our own little worlds--we simply feel awkward with all eyes on us. When the spotlight beams our way, we all react differently. I, for one, tend to get louder, more frenetic, and will get silly to make people feel at ease. I have no problem laughing at my own expense, but I'm thrilled to slink away into the shadows after.

Do you crave attention but loathe the spotlight? How would you describe your social level of comfort?

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  1. Maybe all creative types are shy, at least in the beginning. Teaching helped me get over that. I show my work to my students. They're a captive audience after all (-; It gives me a chance to tell them why I did this or that or why this or that didn't work out quite the way I expected.

  2. yeah--give me a piece of raw meat anyday over speaking to people like that!LOL
    I love to get my thoughts out there on paper but doing it in front of people--well, I have a ways to go!

  3. Finally at 55, I am pretty comfortable in my skin.

    A teaching career accustomed me to "the spotlight," if a room of kids wearing caps turned backward and looking so bored, even a winning lottery ticket wouldn't put a light in their eyes is "an audience."



  4. interesting thoughts ... hmmm... I am a real mix, like you say here. I chatter way too much, way too loud, but mostly out of awkwardness.

  5. Good Morning!

    CJ: I'd love to take one of your classes--shyness disappears when we're passionate about something.

    Terri: Me too. I'm sure you are articulate. In fact, I doubt an audience of yours or mine would even know we were nervous!

    Patti: I can see the blank faces--anxiety attack! You're right. If you can talk in front of them, you can talk in front of anyone!

    Tess: Oh, good! I'm not the only one! I look around at people who are composed at functions where they don't know anyone and I wonder how they do it, because my level goes to 8!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  6. Though I love expressions communicated via words on paper, I don't mind the spotlight here and there, particularly if I'm talking about my craft :)

  7. I have a love/hate relationship with attention.

    I'm okay to give presentations and look forward to marketing my book(s).

    But the relationship with attention and the spotlight runs deep.
    ~ Wendy

  8. What does this say about me . . . I crave the spotlight, but hate the attention. I'm uncomfortable with compliments of any kind. But I'm getting better.

  9. Joanne: The subject makes a difference, true. :)

    Wendy: You'll be fabulous at promoting your books!

    Em: I can relate about the compliments. I'm wary when I get them. And it's interesting how you flip the spotlight and attention--gets me to thinking. :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  10. hmm, i think i am a mix too. I don't mind speaking (depends on the event I guess), but I don't relish a spotlight where all eyes are on me for something. (ugh) I get quiet in large groups where I don't know many people BUT feel very comfortable talking and interacting where I am known. So, it's a balance and its very situational :)

  11. I must be the enigma... but it's part of my DNA, as my Dad's parents were both in the showbiz scene in NY.

    I *love* performing onstage, whether it's singing, acting, dancing, or public speaking. I'm part of several dance troupes and we perform regularly... I feel most alive when I'm on stage. And I love teaching -- give me an audience and I THRIVE!

    But, I hate compliments too. And if I'm in a crowd of strangers? No thanks, give me a corner to hide in! I've heard it's called a 'ShowBiz Personality'... extroverted introverts, or something like that. Haha.

  12. I heard it described once that authors are gregarious introverts. That fits me pretty well. :)

  13. I loved the spotlight when I was younger. The older I get, the more introverted I become.

  14. I don't mind teaching at all, but I dread social events like the plague. Spotlight, no ... words of affirmation, yes, please!

  15. Hmmmm ... I think I'm not the norm then. I am WAY more comfortable on a stage singing or talking than I am mingling with a crowd of people. The spot light is my friend - and perhaps the enemy of my ego ... sheesh. I would read my book from the top of the Empire States Building with a megaphone if I could. And ... thus now you know why my mouth gets me in trouble ALL THE TIME! :)

  16. Oh my, YES! I mean, I love acting but the thing with being on a stage is you really can't see the audience, there's just the joy of playing another character.
    And I agree, there's a reason why we're writers. There's also similarities between different genres. Why does one woman write suspense and another historical romance?
    Interesting thoughts here. :-)

  17. My level of comfort in social situations is very low. I definitely come off nervous, too. I fumble my words and talk really fast or don't talk at all. This definitely worries me for the ACFW conference. I've actually been forcing myself to go up and talk to people at places just to try to make myself more comfortable around people. I'm trying to convince myself that agents and editors are just normal people and certainly don't want me to fail so I shouldn't be so scared. We'll see if it works :)

  18. Hi Jill -

    I prefer small groups or one-on-one conversations. However, I can speak to a group as long as I'm prayed up and prepared.

    Susan :)

  19. Agree. I want to be regarded, but from my chair in the audience. :O)

  20. I'm also a piano performance major. It's funny, but even though I've performed a lot, I still feel the same way you do. People looking at me make me feel really awkward. I'm also painfully shy, and sometimes I'd rather sit in my room and write than go and hang out with people. I'm working on being friendlier though because I know I can come off as rude and standoffish.

  21. Couldn't have said it better myself!

  22. Hmmm... I think I crave an outlet for my words. Attention? Yeah, maybe. I have a love hate relationship with the spotlight I guess.

  23. OH MY GOD! I have that same problem sometimes!!!! It happened when I wrote The Mirror of Life, a 10 minute play with others, and had to be performed on stage as a staged reading. I somehow (though I am extroverted and ready for anything 9 times of 10) got stage fright to read my play out aloud.

    The writing critics however said the play was excellent, had much symbolism, and also was robust in language. I guess there was nothing to fear. I think I may be scared of my own potential....

  24. Hmmm...I think I'm a fairly good actress. When I've gone to conferences I've been able to put on my acting face and met some pretty impressive people...(Spinelli, Gauch, Klein...)

  25. Amber J: I'm much better one-on-one. I do okay in large groups, but it's a strain.

    Faith: Wow, interesting! I like that expression, "extoverted introverts."

    Erica: Love it! Sums me up, too!

    Julie J: I'm much more self-conscious as I age. You're not alone!

    Niki: Oh, yes! Words of affirmation--we'll take them!

    Jaime: You're not quiet? :) Huh? Who would have thought? HA!

    Jessica: Good thoughts--why DO some women write suspense while others write historicals? Hmm...

    Cindy: You'll be great! We all get nervous. You couldn't be worse than when I met my fave author--I was a total spaz!

    Susan JR: Prayed up and prepared--love it!

    Diane: Preferably a cushioned chair. :)

    Abby: Ah, the problem with shyness--not everyone recognizes it. I hear you. It's no fun having people think we're snobs, when we're really just out of our element.

    Susan M: Oh, I'm sure you could have! :)

    Tabitha: Don't we all... :)

    Shigune: What an achievement! Good for you. It must have been gratifying to hear the glowing reviews.

    Sharon: It's telling that we have to gear up, isn't it? And you certainly have met some impressive people!

    Thanks so much for stopping by!

  26. Licking 2 day old raw meat--yes, this about sums it up! I prefer to hide in the shadows in most situations. However, when I'm with a group I know well--make that VERY well--then I can let loose and you'd never know how shy I am.

  27. I am a somewhat shy personn who actually likes the spotlight, when I can get it. I have done public speaking and love it as soom as I get over the jitters. Now, talking to a lot of people in a big crowd - that kind of socializing - I'm terrible at that.

  28. Hmm, I don't crave attention but I don't usually mind it:) Even though I'm usually nervous at first I seem to bloom a little when speaking in front of a group:)

  29. Georgiana: I'm great with friends and people I know. We sound a lot alike!

    Nancy: I bet you're a great speaker! And I'm not good with a crowd either!

    Kara: I don't mind it either! :)

    Thanks so much for stopping by!


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