A Writer’s Identity

These days every writer is confronted with the task of deciding just who she/he is. Some writing teachers tell students they must define themselves in order to succeed. Others say having a writing “brand” or identity stifles creativity and limits a writer worse than an ill-fitting corset.
Writing Tip for Today: At the beginning, you might experiment with genres to see how you like them. And we all know famous writers who write in different genres for which they’re known–JK Rowling comes to mind. But by the time a writer is a household name, they become their brand. The rest of us still need to work on the image a reader sees when they encounter our work. Here are some ideas for narrowing the choices for your writer’s identity:

  • List ten words you think describe you as a writer. Make some of these words specific (fiction, Christian, paranormal) and others descriptive (poetic, family, practical). Narrow the list to two or three of the strongest words that most closely reflect who you think you are.
  • Experiment with tag lines. You may say all the good ones are taken, but try. Are your novels “packed with suspense, discovery and a touch of romance?” One of the best I’ve heard came from romantic comedy writer Janice Hanna Thompson: Love, laughter and happily ever afters.” Try think of a line that isn’t too much of a mouthful or convoluted.
  • Stick with what works. While you are in the building phase of your career, it’s probably smart not to publish all over the genre map. Like Rowling, you may be able to branch out when you’re world-famous. until then, think about using other pen names if you simply must do a novel outside your readers’ comfort zone.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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