Deciding who you are: developing your writing platform

I went to the Willamette Writer’s Conference in Portland last weekend. I attended sessions, volunteered in the literary agent pitch room and talked to a whole lot of people. It was a great weekend.

Some workshop sessions were concerned with the craft of writing — the elements of story structure, anchor scenes and plot points. While I intuitively understood those elements, no one had ever spelled them out for me. I felt like I found a wonderful world where someone turned ALL OF THE LIGHTS ON. The angels sang. It was wonderful.

Some of the other workshops were about author platform and marketing. I didn’t go to those sessions.

Not because I don’t care about marketing. Or I’m afraid of it. It’s what I do as a profession. I’m a freelance writer focusing on copywriting and content marketing. (I also do editing and project management, should you need that. Also happy to play ukelele. I’m versatile.)

But I’ve heard those talks. The ones about where I’m told to decide as an author what my platform is. Do I talk about the craft of writing? Do I focus on the subject matter of my book(s)? Do I write about my writing journey? How do I position myself as an expert in my field?

I’ve been blogging since before blogging was a thing. I still have the sweatshirt Blogger sent me (before they were Google) as thank you for signing up for a paid Blogger-Pro account in 2002. And, for the last 13 years, I’ve often wondered what my blog is even about.

Should it have a single focus? I don’t. As a complex human being, I don’t have one sole interest or concentration.

It turns out, I write best when I wrote about whatever I’m deeply interested in at the time. My posts have gone through a range of focuses: being single and playing music gigs, getting married and having kids, working as a freelancer, writing a memoir, raising kids and knitting lots of sweaters for them, growing food in my garden.

I’m not a mommy blogger, or a book blogger or a crafty blogger. I’m a person who’s a writer. And I have lots of interests.

Because here’s my platform. My platform is kindness. My platform is growth. My platform is how we connect to each other as human beings. My platform is authenticity.

If I’m tweeting with you on Twitter, it’s not because I want anything from you. It’s because I connect with what you’re saying and I want to have a conversation. (I do that to people in the supermarket as well. My kids love hate it.)

If I friend you on Facebook, it’s because I’ve actually met you in person and am willing to let you into my personal online life.

If I follow you on Instagram, I like how you portray your life through pictures.

If I follow you on Tumblr, it’s because I’m still trying to figure out Tumblr.

(And that’s about all the time I have in my life for social media.)

If all of these years of blog posts tell you anything about me, it’s not that I need you hire me or buy my book (you know, when that’s actually published). It’s to let you know I’m here, all Pollyanna-like, to make the world a slightly better place by simple acts of kindness, stumbling my way through parenting and gardening and knitting.

And if you connect with that, that’s wonderful. Because then I want you in my life.