Posted by: Matt Q. McGovern | January 2, 2013

Wear the jacket, it suits you!

This is something that I’ve accidentally stumbled upon, adding to related advice I’ve been given from successful writers.  It’s about being a writer.

It started when I first started writing seriously.  By seriously I mean knowing what I was writing was a project, and feeling it.  For me, that would be the first time I started writing a novel.  Whenever I was writing in a public place, for example a coffee shop, I started to feel the role of a writer.  There are lots of people in a coffee shop working alone.  People reading, doing homework for school, working out of the office, and writing.  It was always the artists that I’d noticed over the years, and thinking about what they might have been working on.  The thought occurred to me that just like I noticed them all that time, so might somebody see me now as a writer.

People will occasionally come up to you and ask what you were working on when they catch you writing in a public place.  Especially in a bar, though most bars are really not conducive to writing.  That’s definitely a place where people are most likely to talk your ear off about the story they never wrote. Winking smile  I was always left with a very positive vibe, both because people were reinforcing me and because I was getting more and more comfortable in the role of a writer.

My friends and family were next to see this role, and that was merely by consequence.  I couldn’t stop talking about writing and what I was working on back then, and there have been numerous conversations that I’ve had where anyone else listening to you will see and hear you as a writer.  And of course, the more you talk about it, the more you are obligated to continue it.  As they say, if you’re gonna talk the talk…

Conventions came next.  Anyone that knows me knows that the PhilCon (http://www.philcon.org) has always been one of my favorite events of each year.  It was purely social back in the day.  It has become a writer’s event since I discovered writing.  Each panel I go to, I’m there as a writer, regardless of the fact that I’m not published.  I talk as a writer, even though I ask a lot of questions.  And after a while, those writers that are published see me as one.  The role is reinforced.

All of the above are ways to “wear the jacket of a writer”, and you find that it fits you well.  But they are largely things that happen anyway.  For example, I didn’t purposely do any of those things because I wanted to be like a writer, I just discovered that I felt that way after my interest took me there.  It’s a good idea to look for other ways to project the image of a writer.  For each person this would be different, but one way to mention is your online presence.

This is definitely something that could use it’s own blog post.  This blog is part of it, in fact.  In being one of the contributors of this blog, I’m reinforcing my role as a writer.  But there’s much more to be done.  How I carry myself on various other media online (Facebook, Twitter, GoodReads, MySpace, LiveJournal, blogs of all kinds, etc.) affects me as a writer. 

It’s important to be the writer you want to be now, so that when you’re published you don’t have to change anything.  Also, the publisher that will represent you will most likely look for an established online presence.  It’s important to keep it professional.

The jacket fits better every time you wear it.

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