So by now you should have a couple of lists:
- Lists of blogs and online haunts you love
- A list of reasons you want to be online
- A good strong list of all your unique layers, roles, and facets
This week we’re going to examine your writing self and look for natural connections or links to those other lists. There might not be any, and that’s fine. But there might be some dots that connect naturally and lend themselves to shaping and refining your online persona or niche.
The exercises this week focus around getting a sense of who you are as an author. We’re looking for that hidden core that links your stories together, and in turn, links them to you. (And some of you might recognize them from back when we posted about whether or not branding was for you. Which makes sense because an online persona is pretty much an extension of your brand.)
~List a dozen words that describe your work. Don’t be shy or falsely modest—think about what qualities your writing and stories have.
~List five stories you’d love to be able to write someday. Write a short paragraph or blurb that captures the essence of that story—the story juice that ignites your passion and imagination.
~List the last five books you’ve written. Again, write a sentence or two defining that core idea that compelled you to write it.
~Look at the themes of your books, both written and unwritten, are there a few you go back to time and again?
Do you see a pattern emerging? Are there connections to be made? If so, you are beginning to see the nuggets of your writerly persona.
So put this list next to the list we made last week. Are there any connections or pairings that make sense? Hopefully there will be a few.
And then we can step back and see if there is a larger authorial mission statement that can be created that includes both your ‘self’ and your writer-self.
As we said when we talked about branding:
Even though you write mysteries, historicals, and realistic fiction, if each one deals with mothers then you are exploring the landscape of mother/child relationships. Or maybe it’s more specific than that, mother/daughter relationships.
Or you write stories to help readers recognize the absurdities in life. Or you like to explore the limitations (or lack of limitations!) of emotional connections, or to help kids on the road to empowerment.
That’s what you’re looking for here, that core something that is uniquely you, that your comfortable talking about and that connects in some small way to your work. That is the nugget that you can begin building your online presence around.
You can let your core mission statement from the above exercise be the centerpiece of your interactions, then build on that. Instead of only writing books that deal with those topics, your tweets, your blogs, your school visits, your author talks all at least touch on some aspect of that core mission statement.
So for me, if I write about empowering kids and like to use fantasy as a stand in for personal power, and I am a research geek, it makes sense that I write historical fantasy for kids. However that doesn’t lend itself naturally to a blogging presence. I could conceivably blog about historical oddities, but I like to save the punch of those for the books. And kids don’t really read blogs, so blogging about their empowerment doesn’t make much sense. And the truth is, I’m more comfortable talking about that kind of stuff in the context of stories rather than lectures, which is what I’m afraid blog entries on that would feel like.
So now I have to sift through the lists again, looking for different connections. The truth is, my author blog is an odd amalgam of talking about the writing process, craft, books I read, observations on life, and talking about my books. It’s probably not the best example of a strong online persona. My presence here on SVP is a much better illustration of a cohesive online presence.
Which segues into this: It is probably best and most authentic if your online presence kind of evolves, much like we do as people. However, there is so much pressure to create this presence, and many introverts aren’t particularly driven to do that on their own (although some are) that sometimes we kind of have to jumpstart ourselves.
That, and this is what you all voted on. ☺
Also, to help spur comments on this, we’re going to have a drawing, and all you have to do is leave a comment to enter. You’ll win a copy of The Hero Within, one of my favorite books for delving into internal arcs for my characters.
But don't worry. You don't have to share your very personal exercises. However, if you DID find a defining nugget for your work and your self, or if you think you have an angle that might work to blog from, or you just want to say what you'd like to see covered in future workshops, any of those will qualify you for the drawing.