Blog by Toby Welch

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Exciting Writing Weekend

Last weekend was the best writing weekend I’ve had in years.

Back in March of this year, the program manager for the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild contacted me. She asked if I would be willing to do a presentation on how to market yourself as a writer during their annual conference in late October. It’s been a few years since I last did a writing-related speech (one on income tax for writers) so I jumped at the chance to do it again.

The months leading up to the conference were thrilling ones. The coordinator and I clarified all the specifics, including what my talk was about. I planned my speech and practiced it until I felt confident that I would nail it when in front a group of people. When there was a month left until the conference date, the program manager sent me my flight itinerary and hotel confirmation, expenses the Guild picked up for the conference speakers.

The day of my speech was beautiful, a balmy +3 in Regina. I went for a walk before getting ready, mentally going through my speech one last time. I was one of the first two presenters, something I was thrilled for as I would be able to relax and enjoy the rest of the conference once I was done my duty. When my turn came to speak - something that doesn’t come naturally to me - I did what works best for me: I faked that I was confident. The speech went off without any major glitches and the Q&A at the end proved to be my time to shine. (I find that not having a chance to rehearse or ponder what I am going to say is when I am at my best.) I took my seat at the end of the hour overall pleased with how my session had gone. My favourite moment was when the next presenter stood at the podium and said, “And I have to follow that?”

When you have a love of doing something but it isn’t one of your natural skills - public speaking, in my case - grab every opportunity you can to do it. Don’t let fear or panic hold you back. Even if you bomb, you’re still a winner for trying, for getting your ass out there and doing it.