Saturday, May 23, 2009

Communication Skills

Being a writer is about so much more than writing. Writers desire to communicate a message, to teach a lesson, to inspire others to write, to vent their own thoughts and feelings or for a multitude of other reasons. No matter what the reason for writing, communication is in process.
Over the years, I've been introduced to a myriad of people who aspire to the "high call" of being a published writer. (Every person is called to do something. To me, writing is a high call of which I am unworthy and yet, by the grace of God, I am called to undertake.) In the meeting places where writers comiserate and critique, a common thread seems to come up in discussion.
"I'm good at writing but terrible at other forms of communication." I've heard this statement from the amateur as well as the successfully published author.
A few years ago, a Christian Writer's Group that I ran hosted a Florida writer (who now lives elsewhere), named Bryan Davis for a writing workshop. It was he who alerted me to the importance of learning to communicate and "sell" yourself. After hundreds of rejections, this author published a successful youth fantasy fiction series and continues to be a hit on the Christian market. His books are now in public schools and libraries as well. But it only happened after he demonstrated how sold he was on the book he was writing. His communication skills included continuing to query after multiple rejection letters, attending writing conferences, approaching editors of publishing houses and selling them on his stories. Now he has a couple of published series and might I add, you should order them for your children!
Self-promotion was a challenging communication skill and a hurdle which he overcame.
Most of us who write find that aspect of the trade horrifying and wish to avoid it at all costs. Why do we feel this way? Is it due to a lack of belief in the ideas we originate? Or is is easier to communicate on paper than in person? Why do we feel uncomfortable and what can we do about it?
I've been blessed to "meet" some very talented people, who are qualified to offer advice on this very issue. A lady I met this week offers training that will benefit not only my writing friends but anyone who desires to be successful. The person to whom I refer is JoJo Tabares, a well-known author and speaker at conferences across the United States.
When I first saw her book in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, I wanted to read it but thought I might not need it as much as I needed some of the other resources. With budget constraints, I've been holding back on purchasing anything, let alone my favorite friends called "books". I went for some other freebies. (Then again, her Wee-book on the TOS website is available for only pennies so I plan to purchase it and others soon.)
Being a writer with a few things published, one might think that my communications skills are good enough but think again. It's so much easier for me to communicate in writing and much more awkward in person.
On JoJo's webpage, The Art of Eloquence, there is a nifty little test to assess the effectiveness of one's communication skills. I took it and became surprised how that even though I am quite chatty with collegues and those close to me, I have a great deal to learn yet about clarity in communication.
The test only takes a few minutes and is well worth your time. Visit her site and try it for yourself. It's very enlightening.


Debbie said...

interesting!! I will have to check it out!!

Damaria Senne said...

Thank you for this post. I'm going to forward the link to an artist friend of mine, as it touches on many issues that she's grappling with right now. She's a very talented artist, but has difficulty marketing herself and her work to others. And how can they buy her work when they haven't heard of her?

I also find that it's easer to communicate in writing than in person.