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Are You a Writer?

by M.R. Goodhew

I recently found myself exploring the idea of what makes a writer a writer, but more importantly what is a writer that doesn’t write?

A friend of mine keeps calling themselves a writer, but they never write a word. I am somewhat offended, because I am a writer.

My aim with this blog post is to inspire the would-be writer to do what they love, simply because they will so enjoy doing it.

But first let’s explore why it is that some of you might not be writing.

Here Is the Conclusion I Came To:

First of all, if you don’t write anything, then you’re not a writer, because a writer writes!

You may once have been a writer, but if you’re not writing, then you’re not producing anything and you’ve quit.

I know it sounds harsh, but that’s the reality of it.

I felt compelled to write this blog post because I know someone who used to be an amazing writer, but now they don’t spend an ounce of their time at the task. They often talk about the business of writing, but are producing nothing. They waste so many hours of precious time that they could be writing just talking about it. It’s absolutely heartbreaking.

If you are like this person then you have a ton of excuses as to the reason you’re not able to write at all right now, and most of them are most likely true and valid. Like the following:

  • You work and then have too many tasks to attend to when you get home.
  • By the time you finish dinner you’re too exhausted to do anything but go to bed.
  • You cannot find a quiet place to focus or just gather your thoughts. Or your significant other will not give you any space to be alone and write.
  • You have a list a mile long of things to do that you are sure you will never have the time to get to all of them, this leaves no time left for something as fanciful as writing. Get real.
  • You aren’t sure how you want to start your book, or how you are going to get back into a book you have already started to write.
  • You don’t have the equipment you need to get started.
  • You can’t realistically devote the time it would take to write your book because there simply aren’t enough hours in the day. 
  • You have to spend some time researching some things first.
  • You want to mull over your ideas before you write anything down.
  • You just can’t get into the right frame of mind on demand.

 

It’s certainly not about whether or not you’re good enough to write, because you’ll never be the best at writing that you could be. No one will, there is always room for improvement. But all of your reasons for not writing, whatever they are, are still probably good ones.

Unfortunately they are just excuses, because if you really wanted to do a certain thing, you would make the time to do it. There would be nothing in the world that could stop you, or should, if you have your heart set on being a writer. What you may lack is determination, commitment, dedication, or healthy relationships.  But, there are things that writers do that make them the writers they are, and you can do them too.

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What Makes The Difference

If something is stopping you from becoming the writer you want to be, then change it.

In response to the very valid excuses listed in the section above, I have created a list of alternate realities for writers that write.

  • Almost all writers have day jobs, and they still manage to produce some writing. Why can’t you? Writers make the time to practice what they love, writing.
  • If eating dinner exhausts you then you are eating too much, or too fast, or you need to get your body moving not long after your meal. Just like the fact that you can eat smaller portions more slowly to get full, you can get off your butt to induce the energy it takes to get your mind moving again. It really is that simple. And don’t forget that consuming alcohol and then eating leads to passing out. If you’re a drinker, you might want to think about skipping happy-hour in order to have the energy to devote your time to something you might find more meaningful.
  • Writer’s have a special place they go to write. They insist on the time spent alone in that place in order for them to get any writing done. They go outside, they go to parks, coffee shops, closets, nooks, garages, sheds, bedrooms, spare rooms, bathrooms, wherever they can find, because writing, to them, is that important.
  • It is unacceptable for another person to require your attention 100% of the time. Writer’s need their space and set their boundaries accordingly.
  • There is always time to pursue the passion for writing, because you just finally decide to make the time and you make sacrifices for it, and that’s the way it is if you are a writer.
  • Writer’s write. It is not always what they would like to write that they’re busy at. Writer’s write all the time to hone their skill and keep their creativity flowing. It’s called practice. They write about the weather, they journal about their day, they write poetry, practice with writer’s prompts, they use visual aids, they brainstorm ideas and write those down too. They are busy at the business of writing and therefore always improving their skill.
  • All a writer needs is a pencil, a pen, or something that will make marks and the world can be their canvas. Walls, cement, napkins, paper sacks, wood, whatever will accept the words they need to write will do. A writer writes.
  • A writer loves the act of writing and sacrifices other things in order to do it, often what they sacrifice is sleep.
  • Writer’s make a separate schedule to do their research. They not only research their ideas, they research their craft, to improve their writing skills. 
  • Writer’s brainstorm the ideas they are mulling over and write them down. Sometimes splitting them into a layout that serves as their writing template.
  • Writer’s aren’t always in the mood to write and much of what they write is crap. The important thing is that they are exercising their skill and getting better at their craft by showing up to practice it. They will write about whatever comes to mind just to get some words on paper and call it good. Writing is writing, whatever you write about. A writer knows that the book they are writing is just a draft, and probably the first draft, so it will suck anyway. There will be plenty of future sessions spent editing their work, and polishing their previous writing.

 

Know that nothing will change unless you go about the task of making it change. A person can talk about the way things ought to be for miles and get nowhere if no real action is taken.

The non-writer should commit themselves to writing and dedicate time to it on a regular basis if they want to be a writer. The goal is not out of your reach, but the tomorrow your waiting for will never be here, so do yourself the favor of starting today.


Look for my next post which dives into how you can create the time to write, and methods I use to get the words out when I’m having difficulty. You might find the post extremely helpful if you find yourself struggling to write.

Don’t get discouraged, for those of you who aren’t writing yet, you are a writer waiting to happen.

What do you think would help get someone back into the writing habit?

Discovering Your Brand

Discovering Your Brand

Creating an author platform is vital for a new author’s success, and creating a brand is the basis for the platform. You need to know what you are creating before you start!

Branding is simpler than it sounds. You have already done the hard part by branding yourself for your author bios creation. You discovered all of the aspects of you that make up your brand. Use these as a resource for content creation on your blog and across your social networks. Sharing things that are relative to the You brand will gain the interest of people who are attracted to that type of content and they will want to connect with you.

Now all that is left are the finishing touches to make your brand complete. It is important to complete the branding process because your entire platforms success rests on the power behind your brand.

Review of what you covered in the All About You portion of the last chapter:

1. What is your gender and your age?
2. How do others see you?
3. How do you want others to see you?
4. What do you read?
5. What do you write?
6. What attracts you to other people?
7. What attracts people to you?
8. What is your best feature?
9. What do you find most interesting?
10. What inspires you?
11. What do you care about and put effort into?
12. Who would you like to be in three years?
13. What are your dreams?
14. What is the book you have always wanted to write?
15. What is the book you are scared to write?

These questions will reveal what makes you unique; I’m sure you can come up with many of your own questions too. What’s important is that you have this very basic list to begin with. The answers to these questions should give you a sense of direction when it comes to creating content for your blog, writing your books, and marketing yourself. Now make a new list of themes you see developing from your list, there are a few ideas for your first blog posts. You are a writer, an individual with a precious and continually growing gift that can now be shared with the world in confidence.

It’s time to make another list. Be sure to maintain a positive outlook and mention what matters:

1. Who are you, what descriptions best suit your personality?
2. What’s your best feature, what’s the first thing people notice about you?
3. What makes you likable, even lovable?
4. What do you think is fun?
5. What makes you different or what makes you the same as others?
6. What do people remember about you, what stands out?
7. What do you write about?
8. What do you want to write about?
9. What is your product?
10. What are your interests?
11. How do you view the world or the world you create?
12. What are your hopes, dreams, and aspirations?
13. Who are you influenced by, you may be similar to them?
14. Where have you been and where are you going?
15. Do you have any awards or have you won or entered any competitions?
16. Are there any media mentions of you?
17. Do you have recommendations from notable people?
18. Do you have any special achievements that relate to your brand?
19. Do you volunteer?
20. Do you have a special hobby?
21. Do you belong to any special groups?
22. Do you belong to any organizations or associations?
23. What are some exciting things that have happened to you?
24. Were you inspired by a famous relative?

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Also, reveal some details about your writing by answering the following questions:

  1. How do you want to be known?

Try to imagine how you would like to be known by the public, what image are you wanting to portray to your fans. You don’t want to be someone you’re not, but some aspects of yourself aren’t meant to be shared. It’s important that no matter what image you wish to portray, that you stay true to yourself and that you maintain an air of professionalism.

  1. What words do you want people to associate with you?

Do a short brainstorming session and write down words that are associated with the way you would like to be known by the public. This is a fun exercise where you may come up with some new ideas that are related to your brand. Admit it, you love descriptive words, round up a bunch that relate to your desired author image and write them down. Try things like – vivacious, sassy, inspiring, hungry, boisterous, – these are great words that you can use when creating graphics for your platform and marketing purposes. These are also words to remember in order to brand your writing, words that describe who you are and flavor your writing style. These words will become, if they are not already, part of your voice when writing.

  1. What are your goals for the next 3 years?

It’s always a good idea to have a plan of action. Just like a start-up, your business of writing is going places, where would you like it to go? This is something you can map out. You could start by writing out your goal at three years, then split that into three and write down a goal for year one and year two. Next you could break these years into quarters, like seasons, imagine obtainable goals on your way to your yearly goals which will get you to your final goal. You could dissect this further, break those seasons into months and imagine even smaller, more obtainable goals month to month that will get you to your seasonal goals. Now you have a plan of action, a direction to focus your efforts. This is where you should dream big, don’t be afraid to write down a three year goal that is desirable even if it appears to be unobtainable today in your real world. Maybe you’d like to be on a television program as a guest in three years, it may seem impossible, but it’s a reachable goal just like any other. Dream big and take the small steps to get you there. What you believe can be.

You may not be the type of person that would dream in that direction, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Write down some other desire as a writing goal and map your way to that one. The point is you will have a roadmap to get you there when you are done, and that sometimes can make all the difference in the world when it comes to personal success.

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  1. What words are associated with that?

Another fun activity! Get out a fresh piece of blank paper and write down all the words that are associated with your three year goal and the smaller goals you’ve outlined that will get will get you to that ultimate goal. When you’re done you should have some key action words that will help you hone your brand and steer it toward your goal. These word will help to keep you focused and can drive the content of your writing in the direction you are aiming for. Try words like – speaking engagements, influencer, book signing, television appearances, podcasting, interviewing, volunteering, – you are the creator of your own reality and these words will help you to shape your reality over the next three years.

  1. Will your books be in a particular genre?

The genre of a book is defined by its broad subject, its language, the age level of its readers, whether it is fiction or non-fiction and/or its subject.

Some examples of genres are:  romance, historical romance, erotica, spiritual, transformational, western, thriller, fantasy, horror, adventure, mystery, science fiction, dark fiction, guides, textbooks, biographies, autobiographies, children’s, young adult, memoirs, poetry, chapter, and scholarly books.

To determine your ideal readers, do an internet search on your genre along with the words “readers” and “demographics”.

  • Who is your reader?
  • How old are they?
  • Man or woman?
  • Children or none?
  • Grandchildren?
  • Occupation?
  • Activities?
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their ethnicity?

Examine all of the traits of your target reader and note any trends. These trends describe your ideal reader. These trends are part of your brand and will help you when creating content for your blog and in your marketing endeavors.

  1. What is the premise of your book?

One effective trick for defining your premise is to write a one-sentence logline that will become the foundation of your story. The Logline is a tool used primarily by screenwriters, but it can be very helpful if you’re writing a novel or a short story.

  1. What are the themes in your book?

Themes are central ideas in a piece of writing. Anything that relates to the theme or plot of your books is included in your brand. Your themes in your book can drive your content. Themes can branch out to include many topics and will attract the kind of people who would be interested in your book. The content you create can be related to a topic or theme that’s even loosely woven throughout your book.

  1. What types of characters are in your book

The characters in your book have traits and can be branded just like you branded yourself in the previous chapter. This would be considered a branching off point had you mapped your brand in the tree fashion. You can use all of this information about your characters to come up with relative content for your blog and to attract readers that would find your characters interesting or that they can relate to. This is also a great way to figure out what groups or types of people you should be connecting with after your platform is set-up.

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  1. What images do you want associated with your brand?

It’s time to start thinking of your look. Do you want to appear playful, concise, creative, or colorful? Start imagining images that you will use to include in your blog posts, what type will they be? Will you use info-graphics, cartoons, text, abstract, dark, bright, purchased images that reflect aspects of your brand? What trends will your images follow? The imagery you use plays a major role in defining who you are and what you have to offer to your audience.

The three major images that will speak the loudest to the public are your website banner, your head-shot, and your book cover. These three images give a visual testament to what you have to offer with your platform, they are the face of your brand and a major selling point. The other most important imagery is the imagery you will use in your social networking shares, such as book teasers and quotes. This imagery all reflects upon who you are and what your readers can find in your work.

All of the things that you have associated to be a part of your brand should be taken into consideration when developing your imagery. Your imagery can be as powerful as the words you have to share and they speak volumes. I highly recommend that you hire a professional designer to work with you as you create content for your platform, set up your website and blog, and create the covers for your books.

If you insist on doing this on your own then it will seriously benefit you to buy a subscription to Adobe Photoshop through the Adobe website. Photoshop is relatively inexpensive and can handle all of the demands a designer requires. You can find plenty of video tutorials on the adobe website that will teach you how to use the program and there are endless amounts of tutorials on the web as well. I will go further into creating your own imagery, finding free imagery, or purchasing your imagery in a future chapter.

For now it is important to start thinking about the imagery you will use as a design package that will represent you. The pictures you use are your visual voice.

Combining all of this information into a chart will give you a visual reference to the substance of your brand. Post it where you write and use it for inspiration when developing content. Your brand is as unique as your voice. By researching what has been outlined regarding you and your brand you have created your platform brand and now should have plenty of resources for what to blog about or share on your social networks. Congratulations, you have created your brand!