The many hats of a writer


Motherhood prepped me very well for being a writer. I’m not referring to funny diaper anecdotes or the odd imaginings of a sleep deprived brain, although those things can serve as creative fodder. I refer instead to the necessity of learning skills of a wide and varied selection. For example, the average mother must be a cook, a cleaning expert, a nurse, a teacher, a counselor, and a mechanical engineer (what!? Have you ever attempted to put together baby furniture?) to name a few.

Writers run into a very similar situation. Here are a few “hats” a writer wears:

1) Historian. If you write anything set prior to oh, yesterday, wikipedia becomes your best friend, but even that doesn’t cut it at times. Hours or days can be lost in the deluge of information when all you really wanted to know was when indoor plumbing became a common fixture in most households. I’ve known of wealthy, famous authors who fly to exotic locations so they can accurately portray the setting. (For us who consider the park exotic due to a distinct shortage of fame and wealth, we use the internet, or even better, make up fictional places.)

2) IRS Taxes expert. Once you’re published and receive royalty checks, or advances (a rare thing now days), Uncle Sam wants his cut. Figuring out just how much he gets involves math that makes differential equations look fun.

3) Social Media PR Rep. A writer must have an internet “presence”. There’s Facebook, and Twitter, and Google+, and forums, and mailing lists, and….. It goes on and on. Worse, people expect you to update and post! Who has time for all that?

4) Website Designer. The number one thing that gets asked when people meet you and find out you’re published (if they’re interested) is “Do you have a website?” It’s the foundation for all that social media updating. Sure there are nifty tools and wizards, but navigating through it is still a pain. Why does the wizard automatically turn all hyperlinks red? Why can’t I click and make the font bigger like I do for regular text? What the hell is a– what’s it called again?

5) Actor. Once you have that nice shiny hard back or trade paperback in hand publishers expect you to go to signings, meet people, sell your soul books, and even attend conferences and the like to build a fan base (or keep it from stalking you demanding the next book…depending on how unknown or famous you happen to be).  No one wants to listen to a boring person. If the person acts boring, well, sheesh, the book is probably boring too!  Whether it’s humor, drama, eccentric behavior or clothing that makes people go, “Woah!”, one has to become an actor to some degree, especially if you aren’t someone that likes public speaking. You must adopt a public face and sell the books. There are a million and three books out there, so getting people to pick yours might involve telling that one story about the green punch and….

Needless to say, it can be rather overwhelming. There are days I channel DeForest Kelly:

Dammit Jim, I'm a writer. Let me write!

What are some skills you found you had to learn to make it in the business of being a writer? What do you do when the business of it threatens the whole point of doing it in the first place; writing?

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