Wednesday, November 16, 2005

writers and public masks

a clinical psychologist encourages shy writers to pretend to be someone else when they are out in public. to do and say and think what a character might do and say. make up a complete history that has nothing to do with who you really are. i've seen this tactic suggested a lot lately. am i the only one who finds it horribly disturbing?
i'm a shy person, and i completely get the concept, but damn. it's just SO WRONG in so many ways. what does this say about our society that we not only accept this idea, but embrace it?
what is the point of being alive if we have to pretend to be somebody we aren't? and are encouraged to do it? oh, it's business, you might say. you have to do what you have to do in order to sell units. business over here; real life over there.
NONONO!! Who you are and what you do should be the SAME THING!!!! it's hard enough to find yourself and keep a grip on that self without being told to bring out a Sybil or doppleganger to do your social work.


Kelly Parra said...

Wow, I hadn't heard of this method. And I am shy. LOL I don't think I could pretend to be someone else, though. I'm trying to be a writer not an actress. ;D

anne frasier said...

kelly, thanks for my first laugh of the day!
i've been reading about this method a lot lately. i just recently saw it again on mj rose's site. she has a clinical psychologist who answers questions once a week, and the dr. made this suggestion. i didn't want to post the link, because it didn't want it to come across as a personal attack. this is a method that i think is showing up everywhere for a lot of different things, not just for writers. maybe the hot way to deal with public anxiety.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like multiple personality disorder.

Couldn't this method be cleaned up by just refocusing it a bit? How about imagining the public person you want to be, imaging you in many different situations being how you want to be, then accepting the image as reality.

Heck, I don't want to become an elderly woman who collects tuna cans, no matter how good an interviewer she may be.

anne frasier said...

jason, that's exactly what i was thinking. why aren't these people being coached to draw on their own strengths? rather than being encouraged to hide. cover up. because the awful subtext here is pretty much telling the person with the phobia that she sucks all the way to her toes.

Mary Louisa said...

Yeah, what Jason said! Making up a complete history?? That's scarier than being a shy person, imo.

I like Lee Goldberg's advice yesterday to work on your public speaking ability. It takes time and practice to develop more confidence, so joining a writers group or even toastmasters might help those shy folks.

Rob Gregory Browne said...

I find it interesting that a psychologist would suggest this.

We all put on different masks in different situations, but the advice in question sounds to me a lot like... um... lying.

Maybe after we finish our books tours, we can run for public office.

anne frasier said...

rob, isn't that the truth! :D

mary l : thanks for the link!

anne frasier said...

i'm glad to see i'm not the only one who thinks this method is weird. when people don't speak up against something, i start assuming everybody approves.

anne frasier said...

i went to the link mary l provided. i love this paragraph. it speaks directly to me:

I know a lot of writers are writers because they like the solitude, because they aren't good in front of a crowd. They simply don't like public speaking and aren't comfortable on panels. My advice for those writers is...don't do it. It's better not to do the speech or be on the panel than to bore your readers.

thank you, lee.

Kelly Parra said...

That would likely be me if I ever sell. No panel, thank you very much. ;)

e-mom said...

While I'm neither a writer nor shy, I see no reason for this. I find it odd..bizzare..frightening really.

anne frasier said...

emom: i find it frightening too. thank god i'm not the only one. maybe the whole thing is some psychology fad that will die a quick death.

Jeff said...

Anne- I agree. To suggest people try to be someone other than who they are simply for profit is not only weird, but patently dishonest. We are all individuals with differing personalities and that is what should be promoted.

Mark Pettus said...

Anne, I think of myself as an artist. My writing is one medium, my forge is another, and the stage is yet another. I am a professional writer, and have sold my iron sculpture, but I act only to fulfill my own need to occasionally be someone other than who I am.

I don't think acting is a dishonest art, and the psychologist is recommending accepting as truth Shakespeare's epithet from As You Like It, "all the world's a stage...and one man in his time plays many parts."

I bought myself a bracelet with WWMD? engraved on it.

What Would Mercutio Do?

I bite my thumb a lot.