Pursuing a writing career when you have social anxiety

Anxiety/Fear Puzzle. Photo by Stuart Miles/Freerange Stock.

Anxiety/Fear Puzzle. Photo by Stuart Miles/Freerange Stock.
Anxiety/Fear Puzzle. Photo by Stuart Miles/Freerange Stock.
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve wanted to be an author since I was about five or six years old. One of the reasons is because I was so shy, and writing was the only way I knew how to communicate and express myself. However, pursuing a career as a writer involves a lot more than just putting pen to paper (or fingers to keys). Whether you’re traditionally or independently published, the marketing of your book is your responsibility. And that means putting yourself out there, which isn’t easy for a lot of people, especially if they’re like me.

A few weeks ago, Ava Jae — author of upcoming science fiction YA novel Beyond the Red and the vlogger behind bookishpixie — posted this video, On Authoring and Social Anxiety. It definitely struck a chord with me.

I always knew I was more than “just shy”, but it wasn’t until I was in counselling for depression last year that I started to see how crippling my avoidance of social situations had been. There are so many friendships and opportunities I miss out on simply because people forget I’m there, or think I’m not interested, or don’t understand why introverts can’t just get over it and be more like extroverts. I even had a teacher tell me my parents were obviously spoiling me at home because I thought I was too good to interact with the other kids; evidently not realising or caring that I didn’t know how to interact with them.

And frankly, I don’t think it’ll ever be easy for me. I’m never going to adore public speaking. I’m never going to be the world’s greatest conversationalist. I’m never going to think an unsolicited phone call is a superior way of contacting someone than an email or a text message. But I’m better than I was. And any small step towards making my dream a reality is a step I’m willing to take.

The truth is, I love people and one of the reasons I’m striving to be published (instead of just writing in my journals) is because I want to connect with people. And I think I have something worth saying. But readers will ultimately be the judge of that. 🙂