ONSTAGE MIC-FRAMEAfter producing hundreds of comedy and spoken word shows and coaching other writers on their material and performance, I went onstage a few times last year to do it myself.

The first time was very sweaty indeed, but it did get better and I learned a lot about the material – and myself – doing it. And it was thrilling to make a big room full of people laugh.

My point is: the modern writer can no longer hide in their room and say, “I am just a writer.”

If you’re an author, you’ll be making public and, we hope, media appearances when your book is published. If you’re a script writer, you’ll pitch projects to agents, managers, executives, producers and other writers in the writers room. If you’re a journalist, you have to pitch your story to editors. Those are all performances. And this is the era of YouTube.

Let’s face it, it’s a great marketing asset if you can deliver your material directly to an audience as well as on the page. It certainly worked for David Sedaris, Truman Capote, Mark Twain, Charles Dickens and many other writers who became known (and paid) for their public appearances.

Booking yourself onstage for a local storytelling or comedy show can strike terror into the hearts of many writers, but consider some of the benefits:

  1. Meaningful deadline(s)
  2. Develop your voice
  3. Develop your platform
  4. Road-test material and ideas
  5. Immediate feedback (from possibly drunk strangers with highly-questionable taste)
  6. Develop more connections with a creative community (potential allies, collaborators, bosses?)
  7. Become less precious/sensitive about your material
  8. Access your subconscious (if you’re improvising at all)
  9. Entertain others
  10. Create new fans
  11. Get paid (Not likely!)
  12. Stand up – instead of all that incessant sitting!
  13. An additional way to generate material

And, if you’re frightened by the idea of going onstage and reading your material to the public, or even worse, going onstage without knowing exactly what you’re going to say, then add . . .

  1. Develop public speaking skills/confidence and/or overcome fear of public speaking.

Research local clubs, theaters and performance venues. See if there are any shows in your area, then go see them, preferably at least once, before you consider getting onstage there. If it seems like none of the performers are having any fun then continue to research other shows or venues. Hell, you could even organize your own show.

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Stage Opportunities (and/or Writing Prompts)