First Speaking Gig: Success!

This morning I finally gave my presentation to a class of high school creative writing students. Honestly, I think I was as engaged with the discussion as they were, which was an amazing feeling.

After a brief introduction from the teacher (a friend of mine, and the person who edited my fantasy adventure), I told them a bit about myself, and then jumped in.

The Presentation

I organized my presentation as the “writer’s journey”:

  • I gave a brief timeline of how I got to where I am, from my very first story idea in 2012, to NaNoWriMo, drafting, getting my dark fantasy story published, and finally my novel.
  • Then, I talked about my world building process, starting with my areas of interest, and getting into some of the details, like the map I drew and ended up including in WoEM — after my illustrator made it look awesome.
  • Then, I got into the early stages: identifying the story you want to write, outlining, etc.
  • I ran them through the self-publishing process, from alpha draft to post-publication marketing…
  • And then we ran out of time. I only had a couple more slides with tips for being a successful writer, and then the places they could find me online (this site, Wattpad, and such).

My teacher friend had warned me that this class would be really engaged and ask a ton of questions, but I couldn’t help myself. I kept pausing in my presentation to answer unrelated questions, because I couldn’t believe how interested the students were.

Of the 20-some students in that class, probably 12-15 of them asked at least one question, which I imagine is the kind of participation rate some teachers dream about.

A handful of kids definitely asked about 10 questions each, but again, I couldn’t not respond to them. The class only lasted about 45 minutes, so I didn’t do a great job with time-keeping, but I’m okay with it. I think (hope) they got a lot out of it, and I know I did.

A few things I’ll keep in mind for next time:

  1. Keep a closer eye on the clock
  2. Limit questions to the topic at hand. I think I let a few of the kids ask questions not immediately related to the slide I was presenting, and could have been better about holding off on answering until we got to that topic.
  3. Have a way to quickly transition to a conclusion without rushing. The end of the class sort of snuck up on me, so I wasn’t even prepared to jump to my final slide and tell the students where they could find me.

MOAR Speaking Gigs!

Now, I just want to do this more often. I’ve already done some preliminary research about finding/booking speaking gigs, because I found it really invigorating to talk about the writing process with a group of people who are just starting out, like I was not that long ago.

Let’s be real, I’m basically still starting out.

Speaking gigs were always on my radar as good opportunities to connect with new readers directly, but I never really pursued them. I didn’t quite know how.

So I’m going to look into it more, because that was a great experience. I don’t expect every gig to go that well, but I enjoyed it. I want to send my teacher friend a quick message to let her know how awesome it was to come to her class. Ideally, I’d like to become a regular guest for her classes each year.

Steve D

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