Sunday, August 1, 2010

Writers and their many personalities (No, it’s not MPD!)

A lot of emerging writers think that being a writer only entails putting those wonderful ideas on paper. Being a writer means you have to wear different hats in the process. First and foremost, you’re a writer. After long grueling hours of editing, you learn to be an editor. Along the way you become a marketer (that’s right, you have to do a lot of PR if you want to get published), and last but not least, you discover you are a networker while at the latest schmoozer (you didn’t know you had it in you, did you?). I bet some of you developed these newly-found personalities simultaneously without even realizing it. Don’t worry you’re not suffering from multiple personality disorder. I know it sounds insane (no pun intended), but as writers you have to learn how to be all of them.

I decided to write about this topic because next week I’m interviewing an agent. I need to take my writer’s hat off and put on my…er…interviewer’s hat? Interviewer! That’s not under my writing job description. Well, I still have to type my questions and then write down the answers. It’s still writing, right? So, wearing my interviewer’s hat will give me the opportunity to learn more about what agents look for in a writer, what publishers look for in a story. You see what I’m getting at?

What about when I edit my friend’s stories? I’m not a professional editor but, I can safely say that revising her work has helped me tremendously when I tweak my own work.

And let’s not forget my networker’s hat. Who would have thought that writer and networker could fit in the same sentence? My friends tell me I’m a great networker. They even quip they’ll hire me as their agent. I see it this way: if I just sit at my desk, typing stories and not promoting my work, nobody will. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by attending networking events. I’ve met wonderful people (some of them who have become my friends and mentors). These people have introduced me to other people in the industry…and the rest is “writing” history.

So go ahead, be bold and wear all your different hats. Just make sure you wear the appropriate one for the right occasion.


  1. Can I also suggest "humble hat"? Self-Edition is one thing, but being read by your focus group is something else. Some of the comments you get can be soul crushing...that for the particular reason that they are true and they point out to some things that escaped your sight for the whole manuscript.

  2. Hi Ben,
    Yes we can't forget to be humble. Thanks for pointing that out. However, let's not forget who's doing the observations. Is it constructive criticism or just deliberate scathing remarks? In this business you have to develop thicker skin and not let criticism dishearten you (I wrote a post about this). In the process, you'll also learn to distinguish between valuable and meritless advice.

  3. Today, writing and networking go hand in hand. Writers can no longer rely on the publishing houses to market their books, especially with all the budget costs. Your article shows how the times have changed. We must adapt, but it's not always easy. Networking for some can be painful. But having a repertoire (even if only a small group) of other writers to get your support is essential.

  4. Hi Laura,
    You're absolutely right. We have to adapt even if we're adamant at first. We have to go with the flow of business and, networking is one of them. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. ;)

  5. Thanks for this post! I've been refocussing my creative energies on writing, and so your piece is definitely food for thought. Nevertheless, there does seem to be a "captain, cook and bottle-washer" aspect to being a writer that the average person doesn't see or appreciate, particularly in the realm of freelancing.

    (I used to work at various small weekly newspapers, and found that that world involved wearing many different hats, so I guess even having steady work doesn't necessarily simplify things.)

  6. Hi James,
    Thank you for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It seems you're a creative soul (from what I read in your blog)so kudos to you for taking the "writing reins." ;)

  7. My pleasure!

    And now I'm your lucky 63!


  8. And I'm your classy 65! Of all the hats you speak of, I hate the networking one. It just doesn't fit right. It squeezes my head, makes my hair a mess. Because I'm pretty shy. In person, that is. Also, I'm not very tan. Makes for uncomfortable writer's conferences here Florida. And I'm supposed to talk, too? Nuh-uh.

  9. I surely need to learn a lot about networking and promoting. I'll just keep writing two more months and then I'll have to wear the marketer hat... Thank you for encouraging us!

  10. Fantastic post Claudia. I was always looking for a place to hide from the networking requirements that go along with, well, with living as a human being on this planet. But when I decided to make writing my profession, I realized there's no where to hide. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and interact with other people no matter what you decide to do with your life. Writing is certainly no exception.

  11. Hello Claudia,

    I love this post! You really touched on what I've been figuring out along the way and trying to help other writer's figure out as well. Being a writer is not just about writing.

    Thank you for the encouraging comment you left on my blog the other day. I will definitely check out your report on the Book Expo and be reading future posts on your blog.

  12. @scarlettprose,
    Thank you for being my classy 65 ;)
    Networking is no different from what you already do via blog. Tiny difference: you do it vis 'a vis. C'mon, you can do it!

    Thanks for stopping by and welcome to my blog. Yes, I think we all dread networking at some point but we have to do it if we want to get published.

    Welcome, Melissa! Glad to hear you liked my latest post. My goal is to reach & help emerging writers. Hope to get more comments from you as this also helps me to write my future posts.
    Happy writing!

  13. Hi Katherine,
    Welcome to my blog! I'm happy to hear you found my post helpful. That's my goal. I want to help emerging writers. If you have any questions, ideas, or suggestions for future blogposts, please let me know. In the meantime, keep on writing!

  14. Hi Claudia,

    Great post... I can relate to it haha :)

    Thanks for your kind messages on my blog this past weekend. I guess we share a love for coffee! I do make a few different kinds of baked goods (even infused with coffee flavour) but cookies are my all time favourite. Cappuccino cookies should be appearing on my blog shortly ;)

    I love your site - I'll be you're newest follower and eagerly looking forward to reading through your posts!

    Hope you have a great week,
    Ms. C

  15. Hi again, Ms. C,
    I replied to your comment but on the wrong post LOL! So, here it goes again:
    Welcome to my community and I'm happy to hear you like my site. ;)
    I'll be on the lookout for those wonderful recipes!
    Until next post, have a lovely day!