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Battling Performance Nerves

As a new performer on the poetry scene, I constantly battle with imposter syndrome. Being surrounded by talented, recognisable and insanely intelligent creatives inspires me, but it also terrifies me.

I recently performed for Assist's Women's Network International Women's Day event, and I really felt the pressure. I had written a poem specifically for IWD and was both excited and nervous to perform it for the first time. I genuinely spent the previous evening practicing in the mirror, over and over again until the word "girls" didn't sound real anymore. As I write this, I'm chuckling to myself because I must have looked an absolute picture. I also recorded myself performing, which was either the biggest mistake or the best idea I had. The recording allowed me to gauge how long the poems took to read accurately and I could also see the annoying things I do to ensure I was performing to the audience rather than reading off the page. I did, however, severely cringe throughout playing it back.

Woman stood behind a microphone with an Assist marketing banner to the left of her
Performing at Assist Womens Network IWD event 02/03/24

On the day, I woke up extra early which is no easy feat as a night owl, and gave myself plenty of time to get ready. I'd ensured I was super prepared and had prepacked my bag- water bottle, tissues, business cards and of course my journal with my poetry in to read. I did some mantras in the mirror and gave myself a pep talk- something along the lines of: "People want to hear my words" "I can do this"

"I am doing this"

I got to the event extra early, as I didn't want to have to rush around setting up and scouting the area. It's times like this I wonder if this is a normal level of anxiety, or whether my anxiety comes back. I felt like if I wasn't there at least 20 minutes before the organisers said to get there, I would be late. Anyway, my anxiety did not ease as I paced around the venue for 15 minutes wondering when an appropriate time would be to speak to reception. I did get some sort of relief when I saw one of the organisers who proceeded to walk me up to the room and chat about what they were expecting from the event.

The next few hours were a blur of small talk; networking; nervous wees and drinking pints upon pints of water for fear my lips would seal shut from dry mouth. About ten minutes before I was due, I took the opportunity to go to the bathroom and do some vocal warm-ups. I apologise profusely to anyone else who may have been in the bathroom while I did this! I practiced a few of my lines, and especially my introduction as I always find this such an awkward part. Skipping forward, Rachel Teate introduced me (and pronounced my name correctly- another anxiety-inducing moment), and I came up and performed three poems to an absolutely wonderful and engaged audience. I can't remember exactly what happened in those five minutes, but I felt elated walking away.

International Women's Day 2024 is fuelled by the theme #inspireinclusion. But what does that mean to me?

I truly believe that everyone has a story that is begging to be told. Whether it's a core family memory; a tale of dragons created for your child or a romcom based on true stories, you absolutely can and should write about it! Through Write Yourself Well, I want to inspire people to write and share their stories with themselves; their close ones and to the world if they so wish. I want to hear stories from all walks of life, I want to listen and I want you to be heard.

More dates for your diaries:

8th March: My Sister's Place IWD event

9th March: Black Light Engine Room Poetry Night Headlining Set 16th March: Poetry Playspace with the Tees Women Poets

19th March: Creative Writing Workshop for Teesside University Students

To find out more about me, my events or business- drop me a message!


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