How to Find Your Place As a Writer

Thank You, Sam Harris

I am a big fan of Sam Harris, the neurologist-philosopher-author famous for his Waking Up and Making Sense podcasts. He is candid about his shortcomings and limitations even in his own fields of study. He admits that he is not the world's leading expert in neurology, nor is he a theological scholar or even supremely qualified to advise on meditation. But he argues that what he can be is someone who understands these three disparate disciplines sufficiently well to occupy a unique place in the conversation. It's the overlap and interplay of his knowledge that prove valuable and distinctive.

Use The Magic of Venn Diagrams

In my career as a marketing professional, I use Venn diagrams a lot to help define a client's brand. I ask clients to focus their attention on the overlap between their strengths and what the audience is looking for. But this works just as well for people. We can rather easily find our best personal brand at the intersection our interests, our experience, our skill set, etc. 

Write What You Know

When I hear the advice, write what you know, it sounds limiting. It sounds as though we should relegate ourselves to writing about only those things of which we are experts. But, of course, there will always be many others with far more knowledge than I have, or could ever have, on every subject I can think of. However, the one place I can claim for my own seems to be at the center of my Venn diagram. I drew circles to represent my profession, my location, my history, my personal attributes, my relationships, my interests and my curiosities, and what materialized was a picture I could feel confident no one else could replicate. When I wrote my first book, I had not thought about my Venn diagram, but it's clear that my diagram is in there. It's what makes the story mine and irreplicable, and now I revisit my diagram to give me confidence as a writer.

What's your diagram look like?


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