for teens, by teens

Canvas Teen Literary Journal is published quarterly in print, ebook, web, video, and audio formats.

Writers Learning to Read their Own Writing

Reading your work aloud is the key to connecting with your audience, especially if your work is not yet well-known.  A good reading hooks your audience, engages them and makes them want to get more of what you’ve given them in the reading.  A reading is not an ordeal to be endured.  It’s an opportunity!

Writers are notoriously solitary, working in isolation.  There’s something safe about being alone with your computer — pencil/pen? Typewriter?  Having to go in front of an audience is scary to most of us. 

Here are some tips to help you become more comfortable, enjoy! 

1. Have That Confidence

You know it’s good (and even if you aren’t sure, give yourself the benefit of the doubt).  Your job is to let others know how good it is.  Never apologize, never let the audience see your doubt. Believe in yourself and your work, because if you don’t, surely no one else will.

  • Don’t judge yourself
  • Don’t worry about what they are thinking
  • Believe in yourself and your work! 

2. Smile

It invites people to like you, and they do want to like you!  If they’ve come to your reading, it’s because they are already disposed in your favor.  You already have an advantage.  So smile!  Show you’re enjoying yourself, and invite them to enjoy themselves, too.

3. Volume, Enunciate and Project

Don’t mumble.  Speak clearly. Face your audience and speak up clearly!  As much as you might want to, don’t hide behind your paper.  Look up from your notes and make eye-contact with the audience.  Speak to the back of the room, and the front will hear you just fine. That audience wants to hear you. 

4. Slow Down

Let them enjoy it. There are natural breaks in the rhythm of prose, between speeches and paragraphs.  Part of pacing yourself properly is allowing yourself time to breathe naturally, without gasping. 

5. Show Some Emotion

  • Inject life into the material
  • Try giving distinctive voices to each character. 

6. Action

Action can enrich your performance. They must complement your prose, not draw attention away from it.

7. Just Relax 

Even if you hate being in the spotlight, at least pretend that you enjoy it.  Do it often enough, and you might realize that you really are beginning to enjoy it.  And if you can communicate your enthusiasm for your work to your audience, they are likely to share it, and leave the reading feeling excited about it. The key here is to build confidence. We must acknowledge ourselves as writers and understand what we have to say is important.

© Canvas Literary Journal 2016
Writers & Books
Rochester, NY