Friday, October 28, 2011

A writer is multi-talented, multi-directional

I speak at conferences about this concept of multiple funding streams and a wide array of writing opportunities. A writer's career is about more than penning one story. This presentation is in demand more than any other subject I teach. As writers, we have hopes, dreams, and often times, tunnel vision. That's probably why this lesson is so popular.

Most of the time, a writer has a book in mind. Period.

I want writers to think differently. They also have research for that book that might merit a magazine article. Their trials and tribulations in penning that story can result in a how-to piece. The first chapter might make a grand entry for a contest. The subject matter might help qualify the writer for a retreat, where he can pen the rest of that beast. The experience or researched material may serve as blog fodder. And just possibly, that book might qualify the individual as a full-time writer, to land a job with an employer with real benefits. If not, the writer may contract his work, working gigs in copywriting, consulting, or education.

Don't think one dimensional about your writing. It's three dimensional, and you're in charge of whether you're wearing the 3-D glasses or not.

The categories in FundsforWriters and TOTAL FundsforWriters have been around for twelve years. Contests, grants, publishers /agents, freelance markets, and jobs. Any writing opportunity falls in these categories. And every writer can make his work fall into multiple categories, not just one.

FundsforWriters is a major chunk of my platform. I used it to garner the attention of an agent. I also entered novel contests to gain her attention. I also used my degree in agriculture and past employment experiences to prove I could talk-the-talk of my protagonist. My freelance article credits proved I had credibility as a writer, and a handful of awards showed acceptance of others in my field. I used my freelancing, job, contests, and education. None of them can stand alone to prove I was serious about writing, but pool them together, and the result is a more powerful image.

Today, the world is all about entrepreneurialship. What do you have at your fingertips to market to the masses? Do you just have a story? No. You have experience, talent, and knowledge that grew in the process of creating that story. You are 3-D, are you not?

Let's take teachers. Like writers, some of them don't think outside the box either. However, those that do, find quite the interesting journey. Teachers can speak, pen books, write plays, consult, tutor outside the classroom, create blogs, and advise in extracurricular activities. They can run summer camps, help the illiterate, and mentor students in projects of their own. We think of teachers as one-dimensional. They know better. I read educator blogs all the time.

Doctors, plumbers, real estate agents, police, dentists, the list goes on. They don't have to just go to work and
follow the job description. They can dabble in endeavors outside the norm. These are often the professionals we hear the most about - those who strove to step out.

Anybody can write. Not everybody can write well. And not every good writer can sell. The more diverse you are with your abilities, the more you take your focus and spread it on blogs, jobs, freelance gigs, contests, grants and periodicals, the larger your platform becomes. And if you haven't learned by now, platform is everything. It's all about who you reach and who wants to reach you.

Suddenly just writing a book seems just too one-sided, doesn't it?


Anonymous said...

yes, this is true.
I am enjoying my season of homeschooling small children. I hope my platform will expand one day.

Unknown said...

You're so right, Hope! I've definitely been guilty of the single minded focus, but now I'm working to broaden my platform.

Having all of our writing eggs in the novel basket can be really frustrating and depressing, too. Those rejections roll in, the hoped-for career isn't launching... it's enough to make anyone second guess themselves and their abilities. Having multiple angles to take your writing gives you a better chance at publishing something, and other projects to work on while submitting that novel.


Anonymous said...

Hope, I totally agree with the concept of the multi-dimensional writer. I am a writer with a newly published novel, I also write short stories and poems. I am a college English professor but also teach creative writing classes, speak at conferences and seminars, maintain my own blogs and websites as well as those for my writers' groups. I also sell my needlework projects. Being a skilled and experienced multi-tasker does have some challenges. You have to work to focus and set priorities; otherwise, you will become demented as well as dimensional.

Diva Jefferson said...

Great concept, Hope! No wonder it's your most popular presentation.

Well, I work retail full-time, I'm about to have a novel published, I update my own website, write my own blogs, twitter/facebook my own progress, participate in multiple writer's groups, I take writing classes online, and I'm writing a new novel. Phew! Being multidimensional is hard work!

Yes, I'm proudly wearing my 3-D glasses every time I edit this book. :)

-Diva J.

@parridhlantern said...

Did you know this blog
has copied at least one of your posts, I say at least one as so far I've found about 18 of mine, I've stated copyright & asked them to stop & remove.

Kelly Robinson said...

I read a long time ago that it's crazy to do research for a magazine article and only get one story out of it. I took that to heart (and wish I remember where I first read it). Now I not only sell the same research at least twice (with different spins), but I once sold a second article to the SAME magazine based on the interview I did for the first. Thanks for these other suggestions!

bradys bearss said...

I apprehend a continued time ago that it's crazy to do analysis for a annual commodity and alone get one adventure out of it. I took that to heart.

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Fi said...

I very much live the concept, but these are good suggestions, good to be reminded of the range of existing-material opportunities. Enjoyed the read.