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How to…conquer your nerves

Written by Hollie McNish

At Young Writers, we get asked a lot about nerves. How is it possible to get up on stage and share our work if we feel really nervous? So we asked top spoken work artist Hollie McNish how she copes and, rather reassuringly, she told us this….

Boy, that is hard. Last month I vomited before a gig because I was so nervous. And (embarrassing to say) I also missed my cue, because I was on the loo with nerves at a gig in York! So not sure I’m the best person to answer this.

I don’t think I’ve conquered my nerves, but the way I conquer them enough to actually get up on stage is by thinking of my mum. She’s a nurse. She works 60 hours a week looking after people, watching people suffer so much and trying to help as much as she can. All I’m doing is standing in front of people (and generally very nice people) and reading poems.

I read my poems. I always have my book in my hand now because I’m not trained in performing and find that was too nerve wracking for me.

But yeah, I think of my mum and I think of the fact we are stood on a big ball of rock and will live for 80 years if we’re lucky and in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not a big deal. The earth will not blow up if you forget a line or your flies are undone or your voice shakes. And no one ever minds anyway.

So basically, I breathe and say to myself – come on Hollie, get some freaking perspective. You only live once and this is not a big deal.

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