Tag Archives: NCFCA

Song of Hope

Late afternoon sun lights up the end of the long hallway. It’s quiet and still. I’m here alone, sitting on a convenient chair just outside the closed door. I’m waiting for it to open.

I know the drill. Somebody’s in there right now, another homeschool highschooler, presenting their interp to the row of judges. I would love to watch, but I never watch right before I give my own speech. I need time to focus. Rehearse the lines silently in my head. After that, just wait.

The nerves start to play with you when you’re waiting for the door to open, but that’s nothing new. You find ways of calming yourself, and though you always stay a little afraid, the thrill of performing soon overcomes the butterflies.

I have space in this hallway, in this Korean church and school in New Jersey, to settle down and mentally prepare for my speech. The diffuse glow on the linoleum floors is soft and pleasant. Once again, I feel the nerves tie my stomach in knots.

Go away, I tell them. I shift in the kid’s chair. Still nervous. Quietly, I begin to sing to myself, sing the nerves away.

It’s Song of Hope, and it’s one of my tournament theme songs. At least, it became my theme song that day. It’s a song that makes you feel small, in a good way. It made speech room stage fright up and disappear when I needed it to.

Typically fear follows me into the competition room and remains for the first few seconds of performance until I find my groove and stay there. Not this time. This time when the door opens I’m ready, standing with an easy smile.

I enter and walk to the center of the room. The judges are finishing writing down their thoughts from the previous performance. I hold up my name tag where they can easily see.

“My name is Kira Gregory. Are the judges ready?” They nod. “The timer?” Yup. “Let’s begin.”


A Close Encounter with Writer’s Block

I used to believe that writer’s block doesn’t exist. Though I still feel that way, I’ve recently come closer than ever to experiencing it.

There are things that can make it well nigh impossible to express yourself, creatively or otherwise. Self doubt and rampant self criticism are two of these things. Dealing with these writing-killers is uncomfortable, but fully possible, as I learned in competitive Impromptu speaking.

When you’re waiting outside the closed door of a competition room, preparing to give a speech on an unknown topic with just two short minutes of prep time, you’ve got to will yourself into a good, productive mood. If you don’t, the two minutes of prep time will yield nothing of value, and when the speech begins and your innermost thoughts are laid bare, you’ll find you have nothing to give. Trust me—it is usually easier to give a bad speech than to will yourself into a better mood.

Using willpower isn’t easy, but it becomes easier with practice. It feels unnatural to force yourself to feel differently, but writers and speakers are actors, and this is what we do. It’s a necessary skill for anyone whose profession or hobby requires them to share their deep thoughts with others.

There’s no such thing as writer’s block. Getting yourself in a positive and productive mood on short notice is worth it for writers, speakers, and everyone else.