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SHOWTIME @cynaragee
, 19 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
I'm a publishing professional and writer who's attended and organized roughly 1,000 readings (and have read at like, idk 100+) so here, for free today on twitter, are some DOs and DON'Ts for you to consider ahead of your public reading.
DO:
-Practice your reading. Do it at least 3 times and time it. If it's longer than the time you've been given figure out how to cut it down. Even if it's a really great piece, reading over time never fun/fair for the other readers.
DO: factor in intro/contextualizing time to yr time at the mic. Plan out how you're going to contextualize it. Like, actually write it down or say it & figure out how long it takes. Make sure your time explaining the thing you're reading is 20% or less of your total reading time
DO: Thank the organizer/venue/folks who invited you to read before starting or keep applause going for the previous reader (you will know if they deserve more). This is a nice thing to do and will give you time to adjust the mic if needed.
DO: arrive early and test the mic if you're not comfortable with microphones. If, when you start to read, you're unsure if people can hear you or if you sound strange to yourself ask the room if they can hear you and the folks at the back to raise their hand to confirm sound.
DO: consider printing your reading out on paper in a large font. You can bring the journal/book up with you for the visual, but read from something that is easy to see & gives you room to write notes (like "pause here"). When you're checking that mic, check you have enough light.
DON'T:
Go without notes if you struggle to memorize or are not comfortable w/o them. It is fully possible to give a moving, emotional and funny reading with a page in front of you. Not everyone is a natural storyteller but I fully believe everyone (with practice) can read well
DON'T:
Announce to the room you've just written the thing you're reading or that you've just learned the genre just for this anthology/issue etc. It's not charming, or self-effacing. At best it's a humble brag and at worst it's a disrespectful dig at the editor and other readers.
I think most of the time when people do this it's because they feel insecure and want to cover that up. If you must talk about your newness one mode you might try is "hey, I'm a new kid to this type of poem/genre/event and I'm so honoured to in this fine & established company."
DO:
Remember that it's ok to be nervous. It's ok to acknowledge it. The audience at most readings is made up of your friends, family, and other writers and everyone really wants you to succeed. If you stumble or make a mistake it's ok. Stop, breathe, and restart at that spot.
DO:
Err on the side of reading slowly. Almost every new reader reads quickly & audiences, more than ever before, need space to let the words sink in. It's better to choose a shorter passage you can stretch out then to read like an auctioneer cramming in as many words as possible.
DO:
Greet (either before of after) the other readers. Let them know if you enjoyed their piece and introduce yourself. One of the best things about reading is meeting other people whose work speaks to you or whom you might share a stage, panel or even project with in the future.
DO:
Attend other events in the series before you read (but also after) if you can. It's not always possible with one-shot events, but one of the best ways to deal with anxiety or pre-reading jitters is to get a sense of how the event works and get a feel for the venue/crowd.
I mostly gave you DOs here because, well, what can I say I'm a softie. I want you to bring your personality and energy and authentic self to the stage. Unless your authentic self is a big jerk to everyone. Then I want you to modify that self into the shape of a gracious human.
Please feel free to @ me if I've missed any obvious tips I should have shared. I wish you all great success in translating the words you've put such care into getting onto the page into a great reading on the stage.
Some additional tips, this one paraphrased from @alexiskienlen: Make sure you meet the emcee or event host and give them a phonetic pronouncer on your name
CG: I usually try to include this in emails before events if possible. I'll offer the info "you say my name Sin-air-ah."
And another, from @DelBauchery:
DO: remember you can be yourself on stage. Posturing or putting on a different voice for reading is not necessary. Your voice is a great voice and not all readers/readings should sound the same.
CG: This is where practicing/comfort come in handy!
An additional tip from @idontlikemunday:
"You’d think this would be obvious, but I’d add to stay and listen to the other readers (unless you have a dire time conflict or it’s a marathon reading)."
CG: Yes! It's not a good luck to read and run (especially if you read over time!)
I meant "not a good look" but I'm sure that pulling the old "read and run" does not boost your luck at being invited back or to future readings. (Exception: if you have the actual runs).
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