A Writer's Platform: How to Make It Natural and Happy

Publish date:

The following guest post is by writer Erika Robuck, who attended the Writer's Digest Conference on Saturday and generously offered to recap the sessions she attended.

Image placeholder title

“The business of writing is the business of reading.”
—Richard Nash

These words from Richard Nash’s keynote address have been sitting in a quiet space in my writer’s heart since I heard them.

They seem so simple, but the meaning is profound. If I think about what reading is—the intimacy of the act of bringing someone else’s words, thoughts, and imaginings into my brain, often while I’m in bed; if I reflect on the weight of that as a writer and apply it to all areas of the publication process (from words on the page, to editing, to marketing, etc.)—I can transform the entire experience into something I’m eager to do, every step of the way.

The breakout sessions I attended communicated this same idea, over and over again, in new and varied ways: the importance you and your passions are as a writer to the business of writing.

Your Publishing Options
I began the day at Jane Friedman’s session, “Your Publishing Options,” outlining the various forms publication takes in the present day.

Jane focused on the three major avenues: traditional, small press, and DIY/self-publishing. What was striking about Jane’s presentation, aside from her warmth, humor, and knowledge, was her emphasis on writers carefully reflecting on the best publishing avenue for them, individually—really asking ourselves as writers what’s important to us, who will read our work, and the best placement for its success.

If you seek an avenue suited to your personality and writing goals, you will be infinitely more likely to achieve it. When I left her session, I truly felt empowered to choose the best path for my own efforts.

Building the Perfect Plot
Following Jane’s session, I attended James Scott Bell’s workshop on "Building the Perfect Plot.” In addition to doing a mean Dirty Harry impression, Bell discussed the strengths of the three-act structure in writing and his “Lock System” for solid plots. He emphasized character as the means by which readers connect to the story, which was helpful in preparing my pitch because it showed how I must emphasize my protagonist to invite agent connection.

Richard Nash
Richard Nash’s keynote address was powerful. His words on the importance of writers as readers—and on the publishing industry understanding that and treating them as such—clearly resounded with the room.

He emphasized that building platform should not be thought of as an “economic leverage point,” but as a natural extension of your work and what makes you happy. This was revolutionary, and illustrates why so many author and publisher efforts at spreading the word in a one-size-fits-all approach lead to failure.

Pitch Slam
I found myself in awe of all of the writers in the pitch lines so passionate about their books, and ended up scratching out my own pitch (which I’d been obsessing over for weeks) and just speaking clearly and authentically from the heart. It was received very well, and I have the session leaders and conference organizers to thank for that.

I no longer think of writing, reading, and the business of writing as separate facets of my career, but as parts that work best when integrated.

Erika Robuck is an historical fiction author, blogger, and voracious reader. You can catch up with her on Twitter, Facebook (Erika Robuck, Author), or her website.

How to Make the Most of a Virtual Writing Workshop or Conference

How to Make the Most of a Virtual Writing Workshop or Conference

In this brave new world of virtual learning and social distance, Kristy Stevenson helps us make the most of the virtual conference.

When Is Historical Accuracy Inaccurate?

When Is Historical Accuracy Inaccurate?

Writers of historical fiction must always ride the line between factual and fictitious. Here, author Terry Roberts discusses how to navigate that line.

What Is Creative Nonfiction in Writing?

What Is Creative Nonfiction in Writing?

In this post, we look at what creative nonfiction (also known as the narrative nonfiction) is, including what makes it different from other types of fiction and nonfiction writing and more.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: Four WDU Courses, a Competition Deadline Reminder, and More!

This week, we’re excited to announce four WDU courses, a Competition deadline reminder, and more!

Funny You Should Ask: What Is Going to Be the Next Big Trend in Fiction?

Funny You Should Ask: What Is Going to Be the Next Big Trend in Fiction?

Funny You Should Ask is a humorous and handy column by literary agent Barbara Poelle. In this edition, she discusses the next big fiction trend, and whether or not all books are the same.

From Script

A Change in Entertainment Business Currency and Disrupting Storytelling with Historical Significance (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by ScriptMag.com, learn about how crypto currency is making a wave in the entertainment business, what percentages really mean in film financing, the pros and cons of writing partnerships, an exclusive interview with three-time NAACP Image Awards nominee, co-creator and former showrunner of CBS’ 'S.W.A.T.' Aaron Rahsaan Thomas and more!

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Putting Off Submissions

Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Putting Off Submissions

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake is putting off submissions.

The Transformative Power of a Post-First-Draft Outline

The Transformative Power of a Post-First-Draft Outline

Have you ever considered outlining after finishing your first draft? Kris Spisak walks you through the process.

Poetic Forms

The Skinny: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the skinny, a form created by Truth Thomas.