As writers, we learn about the importance of finding our voice in our writing. Discovering that unique flavor that makes our writing recognizable and the themes that our books rest on. Today, I’m want to talk about discovering who you are as a writer overall and then using that knowledge to help you brand yourself. Having an author platform is no joke and the sooner you can determine who you are as a writer, the sooner you’ll be able to position yourself in the marketplace in a way that resonates with readers.
Have you ever met a really amazing person who exudes confidence, kindness, warmth, and beauty? Chances are she knows herself and walks through the world firm in her understanding of who she is and who she isn’t. Socrates told us that “to know thyself is the beginning of wisdom” and it seems like the beginning of a new year is a great time to get wise.
Imagine having the kind of confidence that woman exudes in the above paragraph as you step out into the world as writer and display your works for others’ consumption. Wouldn’t it be lovely to stroll through your career with a solid sense of who you are as a writer? Imagine how much easier it would be to plan and accomplish your writing goals if you had this insight into yourself and your writing! Some of you have done a little bit of this self-exploration before. It’s how you know, for example, that you prefer writing prose over poetry. Or maybe it’s the reason you’ve delved into screenplays. But your preferred medium shouldn’t be the end of your exploration.
I’m wondering how most of you decide what you are going to write. What is that you are trying to say via your chosen medium of literature? We talk often about how books have a theme and the importance of identifying that. I’ve taken that same idea and applied it to finding our purpose in our writing to help us solidify our author platform.
Look at your body of work, published our not, and try to describe all of it with one word. Is it dark, romantic, suspenseful, angsty, sweet, fantastical? See if you can find just one word that encompasses all that you write. I did this exercise for myself and discovered that even though I write across a lot of genres, there is some sort of paranormal element in nearly everything. Ghosts, witches, vampires, psychics. Even in my historical fiction I’ve got ghosts and my science fiction gives special abilities to the characters. What’s the word that describes your writing? Tip: Make a list of all the words that come to your mind and then see if you can settle on just one. You might find that you shake loose the perfect word in your brainstorming efforts.
Check out the symbolism that you tend to use, likely again and again. Do you have an undercurrent of questioning religious mythology like I do? Maybe you always reference historical architecture in all your books? Or maybe you seem to write happily-ever-after endings no matter the genre you write in? In every book I write, my strong female characters are either working with or against supernatural forces to overcome the obstacles in their lives. That’s an overarching theme in my own life that accidentally found it’s way into nearly all of my books. An agent from Fuse Literary predicts that 2017 will be a great year for diversity in books to continue to break out. Do you have an LGBT theme that you constantly get back to in your writing?
One author, Roni Loren, describes this concept of a writer theme as your universal theme in this article and discovered her universal theme when a reader pointed it out. That brings me to point three. If you can’t determine what your theme is, try asking someone who is familiar with your work. What seems unclear to you might be completely obvious to a reader.
I think you’ll find that once you’ve discovered your own personal theme, you’ll benefit in a couple of ways. Creating an author platform will be much easier if you know yourself. And, maybe even more importantly, once you see this theme, you won’t be able to unseen it and will become that much simpler to incorporate your overall theme into each of your books.