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Will a sexy muse and booze make you a brilliant writer? This life lesson will tell

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Will a sexy muse and booze make you a brilliant writer? This life lesson will tell

Leaving a promising career at Google filled with free food, free massages, and a solid paycheck in favor for a life as a famous writer was a no-brainer.

I would wake up at 11 am with a beautiful woman by my side, kiss her goodbye, and put a t-shirt on. I would later type remarkable words on a vintage typewriter while nursing a glass of whiskey.

Journalists across the globe would pursue me for notable insights on the creative process, life and of course, women. The philosophical stories I would convey would help them craft their award-winning articles, with a magnetism so strong their bosses would throw them an extra Christmas bonus.

I wouldn’t have a schedule to respect, no duties to obey and no boss to please, only my mind at ease.

While sipping a whiskey sour in a Brooklyn bar with my black notebook, a blonde lady sitting two arms’ length away jumped off her barstool and sauntered over to my filthy pages and me.

“What are you writing?” she asked.

”Short story,” I said in a panic and closed the notebook.

”Are you a writer or what?”

I was silent. My inner self was running around my brain in circles to figure out an answer. I didn’t know — was I?

”Actually, yeah. I am,” I answered

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”Wow, that’s amazing. What do you write about?”

”Life, love, misery. The usual suspects.”

”I love people who write. Can I read some?” she said, staring at me.

”Nah, you’ll have to wait until it’s done and get it in a bookstore. I’ll invite you to the release party and sign it.”

”Really? I would love that. I’ll write you my number.”

She glanced at my notebook. She loved the writer story; she wanted to be part of it. Was it the whiskey? Was it the t-shirt? My words? Couldn’t be, I hadn’t written anything and she hadn’t read anything.

I opened the last page of my notebook and turned it towards her before I handed her my silver pen that I had bought on sale at Office Depot the other day.

She wrote her name and number down, ending it with a smiley face.

”Call me someday,” she said, and left.

I called her the same night. We met at a wine bar in West Village. She told me she was from New Jersey and worked in real estate. Business was slow, yet the other day she had sold a 3-bedroom condo to a couple with three kids.

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She did commercial modeling on the side, mainly local, such as Dave’s Auto shop in Hoboken. Her dream was to walk the red carpet at the Oscars.

We downed three glasses of wine, went to my studio, had sex and fell asleep. The next morning I made her coffee and walked her out. We never saw each other again.

Had I found a golden hen? A hen that would lay golden eggs as long as it was served whiskey and carried a notebook accompanied by a $4.99 pen. Was it just a coincidence? Luck?

Turned out it wasn’t.

Going from one bar to another with my notebook drinking whiskey would prove to be a formula attracting encouraging and thought-provoking women. I had discovered the concept of a muse, and it was real.

They were all unique. How they talked, walked and sobbed. Each one of them carried a story. Like picking up cookie crumbs, I chose tiny pieces of each one and stored them in my creativity tank. The ones that were not yet eaten by the world, the ones hiding deep inside their hearts.

Those were the interesting ones, untouched and unusual, terrifying yet attractive.

One by one they would help me complete the page puzzle I was trying to assemble into a novel with the use of words on a page.

I loved it. The life as a writer turned out just as I had imagined. Muses, notebooks, and drinks. Admiration and freedom. Only the calls from journalists were missing, but they’ll come to reason later on, I thought.

I started to write, assembling words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into the pages. Putting the crumbs together, merging stories and characters.

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The truth was the building block. Real people, real stories, real pain.

I knew a lot of truths, yet it didn’t feel enough. I wanted more; I need more, I said, to finish the puzzle. To make it picture perfect. To put the chaos of crumbs together into one tasty cake everyone wants a mouthful of.

It didn’t happen, the pages remained in anarchy.

Drink, sleep, and procrastinate. A muse, another one, one more. Writer and thinker I said, dreamer and drinker, I was. I lived the imaginary life of a writer so much that I forgot to actually write. The ideas never survived the hangovers.

After months of drinking and searching for the perfect muse, I recognized it wasn’t the textbook recipe for a New York Times bestseller.

Something was missing. The pressure was there, more than 500 copies had been sold six months prior to publication date, a book had to be delivered. I was held responsible for it to happen.

The publisher talked about deadlines, I thought about headlines. It was easy to lean back on the steroid fueled visions.

The anxiety was constantly haunting me; how would I find the missing piece and fulfill my promise to readers, muses and most importantly myself. Did I live in a dream? Was I escaping reality?

The fear of exposing myself was persistently knocking on the door to my wellbeing. The public would get the key to my mind, and it was too late to change the lock.

It was all there, except the novel.

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I could always blame it on the notorious writer’s block and find a new women, new inspiration. It didn’t work. The chapters crumbled. The journalists didn’t call.

During my regular Thursday 3 p.m. whiskey at The Standard Hotel, I was talking to a woman from Paris. She visited New York for an art exhibition.

“Wake up and write. You can’t fix a blank page,” she said.

“But I am,” I defended myself.

“Ah non, no, no. Don’t hallucinate. Write. Just write,” she commanded. “La discipline,“ she said and left me alone with my drink.

Discipline was the missing piece. As simple as that.

The experiences had fueled the creativity tank, but the lack of discipline left a leaking hole. Muses and whiskey weren’t enough, they wouldn’t make me a brilliant writer, and they wouldn’t make anyone a brilliant writer.

Not alone.

Discipline is the key ingredient that glues the puzzle together. It drags the heavy package referred to as life.

Alone, creativity and discipline are solid, but when they marry, magic happens. Magic referred to as brilliance.

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My perfect muse only needed to say one simple word to create magic: Write.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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