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Do You Self-Identify as an Author? Part Four

We’ve been talking about your author identity in this space lately and in our last post we talked about the image a lot of people have of what a published author is actually like. I mentioned the brilliant but impoverished boho-chic hipster who lives in a cold attic room in Paris and drinks with the cool crowd down on the Champs Elysées.

That’s a pretty big 180 from the real deal of writers I meet, like the middle-aged parent of two kids who has a mortgage and golf clubs. Or the retired dog trainer who lives in a condo in a smart area of the downtown core. An author is a lot like you. Writing a book did not make them famous overnight and it didn’t magically make all their bills go away. They still argue with their teenage daughters, hold down a full-time job, pay their taxes, and take the car in for an oil change.

If you would like to bring the concept of “published author” into your sense of who you are I first of all invite you to replace the word “published” with “emerging.” You might not be a published author (and your brain knows whether or not this is true) but you can certainly be an emerging author.

Here are ten characteristics of a successful author that you might want to keep in mind as you scream toward your own publishing triumph:

  1. A successful author takes their writing seriously, committing consistently to working on their book manuscript no matter how insecure they feel about their ability to make it shine.
  2. They don’t take their writing so seriously that they can’t have fun with it. Writing a book is a cool project – it should be fun!
  3. They are always learning—about writing, publishing, marketing, and Life.
  4. They recognize that their main task isn’t to pump out a whole mass of words that teach people something, their task is to connect their readers to their own emotions.
  5. So, that means a successful author is one who is expanding their own emotional world, too.
  6. They recognize that sometimes writing is about sitting in your chair and writing your book and sometimes it’s about sitting in your chair and allowing yourself to simply “hold the pen” and be the channel through which the book is written. Both are good.
  7. They are open to improving.
  8. When it comes to being professionally edited, they put their ego in their back pocket and accept that there might be a better way to say what they want to say.
  9. They don’t beat themselves up for not getting their book written in a month or three. They recognize that writing a quality book involves an element of craftsmanship and that takes time, energy, and devotion.
  10. They don’t give up.

Before we move on to the deeper heartbreak of writing a book, in our next blog post I’m going to take a little detour to talk about one other little issue that lurks at the edge of the conscious minds of most people who are working on a book. Here’s the thing: the raging self-doubt that consumes most of us while we’re working on our first book in particular is a huge impediment to our forward motion. But let’s wade bravely into the shadows for a moment and haul it out into the light of day so we can see what it’s really made of.

See you in our next post!

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