Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Tour de Blogg Guest post - Comfort Zones & Marketing by M.P. Ness @Michael_P_Ness, author of White Leaves

 “Comfort Zones and Marketing; Introversion in an Extrovert Game”

Much of the time, authoring is a game for introverts. We have social anxiety, misanthropy, plain old shyness, daydreaming, over-active imaginations, and a plethora of other reasons why we are who we are. And ALL of them can make it difficult for us to compete in the world that comes AFTER our world-building.

I myself have suffered a combination of the aforementioned introvert qualities for most of my life. Confronted with individuals and groups alike; I tended to experience a bizarre occurrence entirely within my own head.

I ceased to “experience” the expressions and words of others on a fully intact level. An invisible wall arose and seemed to dull what I saw and softly mute what the others may be saying; often to the point where sometimes I might as well not be there at all.
For all intents and purposes, I’m not there, really. The lights are on, the vehicle is running, but I’ve checked out. I’ve escaped to some sort of purgatory stasis outside the interaction taking place.

This simply will not do, if you want to be an author; for an author, whether we like it or not, is something of a public figure. We have to be, if we are to succeed and build a career of our work. More importantly though, if we want to actually connect with people using our writing. This is because readers are people too. They can’t become your fan, the most important type of person in the world for you, if they never know of you or your work. They can’t connect with you, if you can’t extend yourself.

It has been a long 31 years and counting; my life, because of a mix of social anxiety, a developed misanthropic nature, and thorough daydreaming. However, introversion isn’t necessarily a negative. It has actually been studied in all it’s forms on many levels, and has been deemed, an evolutionary trait. Thus, it has to have a benefit or two. To me, it’s what made me who I am today. It also gives me the tools I can use to create works of art in a myriad of forms. But, in the game that comes after creating, it is a definite handicap to the score-card.
However, I can safely say I am overcoming introversion. It has taken years of hard mental work to overcome it without  complex medications impressed upon the public by the dread pirate “pharmaceutical industry”; but over the years I’ve grown and learned a great deal due to diligent self-study.
And today I can now help others learn to overcome it, so they too can become the public figure they need to be, that they may become more accessible to their potential fans.

It all boils down to attitude.
Not, I have a chip on my shoulder, attitude. Rather, your outlook on yourself, or more accurately, your world.
One resounding note, imparted to me by a very fine lady, which helped me make the progress I’ve already accomplished, is this: “The more you extend yourself beyond the boundaries of your Comfort Zone, the bigger it becomes.”
That is to say; what doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger. We’ve all heard this before.

If you force yourself to do the things that make you uncomfortable, or go where you feel out of your element, you will sooner or later look backward and realize you are still within your compound of security. It has just grown to accommodate your steps. You haven’t died, and your walled sanctuary now includes a pool, a ballpark, a stranger’s home where a party is being held, or even *gasp* a book signing where you are the center of attention…and you’re quite okay with that.
You may be a little nervous, but nerves are natural. What’s important is having the tools to cope and overcome introversion.

It’s not an easy journey, reaching that level of comfort in any situation that demands your best self-presentation, but you can reach that place by remembering your comfort zone is only ever as big or small as you allow it to be.
If you clam up, get sweaty palms, the jitters, or become an internal train wreck incapable of the tiniest action during periods of social interaction; I know a trick. It may or may not work for you; at least maybe not immediately, but over time it helped me a great deal when I realized it. And, it doesn’t even involve other people in their underwear!

Every single time I’ve had to give a speech, I’ve shortly thereafter admitted to someone at some point that I was, “Sooo nervous.” To which they almost always responded “I didn’t notice,” or “You didn’t seem nervous,” or the ever popular “Then you hide it well.”

It then dawned on me. A certain thing happens between individuals when we interact. The obvious aspect is that we are seeing and hearing each other. We are functioning on various cues, such as facial expression, tone of voice, and body language below the surface of the actual information being passed between us verbally.
However, a second thing is occurring during social interaction. Our internal self is also aware of what our own faces, bodies and voices are doing. Our self-image is monitored, albeit more vaguely, just as we are monitoring the other. It’s how we define our existence in that moment, our relation to the space around us. It orients us.
Now, in socially anxious people, that self-monitor is more detailed than the monitoring of the other. Too detailed. That’s where the invisible wall appears and shuts us down, sometimes mid-talk, sometimes from the start. That is what creates the barrier that does not exist without our introversion.
So, in order to overcome it, just realize a few things.

One; you’ll be less crippled by your own self-image if you really focus on the other person you’re interacting with. Seriously, try it. Pay attention to them. Closer. Closer. There you go. Now stay focused.
Chances are you might even unwittingly make them a little self-conscious, and you can apologize mentally later for that. If that happens, you’ll see that anyone can be just like you. In a sense, if you can do that, you’ll have taken the all power out of the sails of introversion. And that’s a victory no matter how you slice it.
Easier said than done, you might say. Many have said as much to me.

So, secondly; realize that chances are good (since everyone else also has an internal monitoring system) that they are partially subconsciously preoccupied by themselves. So, if you are nervous, but pretend you aren’t, the chances are equally good that they won’t even notice you’re totally freaking out inside.
It’s a case of fake it ‘til you make it, in a way.

I say ‘til you make it because with time and repeated practice in this fashion your own fears and nerves will have atrophied, and you’ll look around and see that your comfort zone has grown. It may even surprise you.
Fear nothing that is not inherently life threatening, and journey onward. Force yourself if you have to. I certainly did, and over time my little garden sanctuary of precious seclusion has become a great fortress so vast it encompasses a proverbial countryside where I could go hunt a wild boar and never leave the privacy of my safe-hold.
And it gets bigger every day. Every time I step outside my door my comfort zone grows greater.
I wouldn’t be able to go back to my little isolated garden of serenity now, even if I wanted to (which I don’t).
I mean, where would I put my castle? My flying buttressed gothic cathedral, my parapets and catwalks, or my lake for that matter?

-Some of the concepts I’ve been impressed enough by to share herein have been brought to your attention from the mind of Scott McCloud and his instructional comic book, “Understanding Comics”.
-“Comfort Zones” quote from Trudi Ness, -yes, my mother.

About the Author:  Born in the Midwest, I share my birthday with Leonardo Da Vinci, and seem to share a bit of that creative monster's spirit.

I paint, draw, write, sculpt, and more.  I'm extremely prolific when I don't have life and day-jobs tying me down.

I published my debut novel, E.L.F. vol. 1, White Leaves, July 1st, 2013, and hope to release the sequel, Blighted Leaves, sometime early/mid 2014

White Leaves is currently available at all major online retailers in both print-paperback and eBook forms.

I do my own cover-art, book-trailers, formatting, and marketing.  It's tough, but a thoroughly engaging ride.

I've also done logo, cover art, and animations for local Seattle area musicians, other musicians elsewhere, luthiers, videographers, authors, and retailers.

Connect with M.P. Ness:

White Leaves (E.L.F. #1)

Goodreads blurb:  Shannon Hunter, an eco-terrorist member of the elusive Earth Liberation Front (E.L.F.) from Seattle, discovers real elves bent on more than petty sabotage...
Plunged into the a world teeming with magic she never really imagined to exist, Shannon discovers the terrible reality left to both Mankind and herself. The Elves have decreed - "Mankind stands upon its own terminus, heedless of ruin" - and its high time the real protectors of nature strike back.
The only person able to do anything to prevent a supernatural war mankind cannot hope to fight; Shannon must find a way to overcome her misanthropic ways, and prevent the Elves from making a mistake that threatens not only Mankind but all life on earth.

The contemporary fairy tale, "E.L.F." is set in a dystopian vein, somewhat akin to the Harry Bates' classic, "The Day the Earth Stood Still", only fantasy, not Sci-fi, and with far more epic action.

The Createspace Print Edition comes completely edited, with fully glossary of terms and pronounciations, and chapter 1 of "Blighted Leaves" (E.L.F. #2)

Interested in reading??

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