1. Say YES! I know you can’t say yes to all the things but really try to say yes as much as you can. Yes to collaborating, yes to writing about a different topic, yes to taking a workshop, yes to being a guest blogger, yes, yes, YES!
2. Say YES part two: Especially say yes to things outside your comfort zone. I’ve done rock shows, burlesque, storytelling, theater, comedy shows, literary readings, and I’m a better writer and performer because of it. Being exposed to new things is good. It’s really easy to get stuck in one little part of the art world don’t limit yourself.
3. When traveling to shows where the audience might not be used to spoken word think of yourself as an ambassador of your art form. A lot of folks haven’t been exposed to much spoken word. Be willing to answer questions, be friendly! Tell them about local shows.
4. Carry flyers. It’s better than a facebook invite because it’s harder to ignore. If someone says, “I liked that thing you did” You can be all, “Come see me do it again!”
5. Have merchandise. You might not make much selling it but you’ll make more than if you have nothing to sell.
6. If you have a chapbook get someone to proofread it for you! Even if it is just paper and staples your work deserves the careful eye of a proof reader. You’re a writer you probably have a bunch of nerdy friends that won’t even charge you more than a drink and free copy.
7. Dress to impress. When you leave your house you know that you are going to be speaking in front of room full of people (well hopefully) so dress accordingly.
How to succeed in slam without really winning.
Lots of folks in slam become recognizable simply by merit of how often they win. I’m not one of them. I’ve had some competitive success but as mentioned in my first blog it took me a while to get there. I prefer to look at slam as a tool to hone your craft as a writer. Early on the 3 minute time limit taught me how to edit. I learned how to put together a good poetry set by competing in the 3 round format (hint: show different aspects of yourself). I’ve learned how to be big onstage when I need to. But I digress. My point is focus on your crafts (writing and performing) and here comes the big secret DON’T BE DICK.
That’s right! Being nice matters! I’ve toured various parts of the country and always had people who were willing to book me and help me find other gigs not because I won a National Slam Championship (I never have!) but because I am a nice human that is also an interesting writer. That’s the secret folks play well with others, practice gratefulness and make friends.
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