Once upon a time I heard (or maybe read) a well known writer (who is unimportant but you’ve heard of them) lament the need to be an author and that it got in the way of their writing (aka the fun part). Said writer is not exactly the raging extrovert a certain number of those who populate conventions and various online locales are or appear to be. Which is honestly fine, public speaking isn’t for everyone, and the internet has (or at least appears to) a disproportionate representation of eccentric folk.
The bit that the introverted writer needs to do is create their professional personae just as they would create a character. This is both a bit easier, and a bit harder for some people. What to include? What to leave out, how much more extroverted to craft this person? And of course recognizing what you can and can’t do well socially. And doing publicly (including on the internet) things that will attract and retain your fans and people similar to them.
Some folks are just plain uncomfortable with the type of outrageous garrulousness that typifies some pretty dang successful folks, and some of us just don’t lead interesting enough lives to engage in tweeting like this. Personal disclosure is also a one of those curious balancing acts. Jay Lake’s discussion of his battle with cancer is courageous and no few people would call it a public service, but not everyone would be able to do it without it looking like a pity party;
For me personally, I avoid almost all discussions of politics and religion (assuming its not redundant to list them separately because they are divisive. There’s no way to publicly parse the deficiencies of faith X or candidate 27 without vexing someone. I also rarely discuss my avowed love of hockey. Not because it’s divisive, but because as enthusiastically and elaborately I can enumerate the fine points of things like the 1-3-1, my opinions of Matt Cooke, Gary Bettman, and market viability, I don’t. Not for any lack of knowledge, not because I don’t enjoy it and couldn’t do it in a reasonably engaging way, but because I suspect I can count all the people I’ve met in fandom who even like hockey in one breathe.
So, some questions you should be asking yourself before you go about establishing your professional presence:
- What kind of interactions am I good at?
- Where are my personal limits?
- What are my broad spectrum interests?
- When I’m physically in public how do I engage people?
- Does my personae clash with my writing style?
- Is my professional avatar enough like me to be something I can maintain even when tired towards the end of a long day?
- How does my avatar respond to criticism and or attacks?
What other things should you do or not do?
*Minor edit, I really need to stop using the autocorrect on spell checker…