Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"But Crowds Make Me Nervous!"

Writer Karla Akins, pastor's wife and biker chick

We writers generally are a solitary lot. We like our scribe caves. Then once a year or so, we tentatively inch our way into the public, eyes squinting against the light of day, and make our various ways to a gathering place for the ACFW conference. And we're supposed to schmooze with several hundred of our kind as if we were socialists--I mean socialites. Well, it just isn't that easy. At least not for some.

Okay. I happen to be a professional raconteur. I've told to audiences of all sizes, from 1 to several hundred. But I still tend to get the jitters when I have to mingle among the masses. (It's easier when I'm in character.)

Several people new to the ACFW conference scene expressed their concerns on the newbie loop over the past couple days. They received excellent advice from more experienced colleagues. Karla Akins was one offering wise counsel. In fact, I liked it so much that I asked permission to post it here.

As a pastor's wife, I've learned a few tricks about handling crowds:

a. Be prayed up. If I face a crowd prayed up, it's so much easier. Ask God to give you an extra measure of grace for that moment/day/event.

b. Deep breaths, and keep water with you to sip on. Water lubricates the brain and keeps those neurons firing properly.

c. Keep the focus off myself. I'm not there just for myself. I'm also there to be a blessing. If I think more about blessing others than my comfort, it makes it much easier. It wasn't convenient for Jesus to go to the cross. Think of the anxiety he faced and overcame just for us!

d. Christ died for people, not writing caves. I see people as Jesus with skin on. (He gave me that idea, I take no credit for it whatsoever.)

e. Plan your exit path. Figure out where the doors are and how you can make a polite exit if you just have to get out of there.

f. As Cynthia said, sit on the edges. Again, the exit path needs to be considered.

g. Positive self-talk is important. Don't blow this event out of proportion in your mind. Very few people that I know of have died going to a banquet.  (I actually haven't met anyone personally whose banquet killed them.)

h. This is just another step in growing toward your career as a writer. People matter more than anything, and they are going to want to meet you when you're published! So, just pretend you're in boot camp for when it's time to meet all your fans and sign all those books! :-)

i. Again, I reiterate: be a blessing. So often we think it's all about us, and it's not. There is someone at conference that needs to meet you. God is sending us there to help one another and reach out to one another. Who knows whose life you will miss out on changing forever if you stay in your room?

j. HAVE FUN! :-) And don't forget to find me! Depending on how I'm feeling that day, I might just be the one sitting by a door! :-)

Karla Akins

Thank you so much, Karla, for graciously allowing me to post your advice.

Gentle reader, have you attended a major conference? What were your concerns? How did you deal with those? How did it turn out? Please click "Comments" to respond. Share your story and advice.

Write on!
Because of Christ,

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