Monday, February 17, 2014

Writing 101: Who Are You?

I've written posts about finding your audience, figuring out your characters and working out your plot. But I've failed to address one of the fundamental issues I struggle with almost every day: who am I? If you're an author and lots of other things besides, you may also struggle with this very basic query.

If This is Belgium, It Must Be Tuesday

For me, the issue is probably a little more convoluted than most. I was born with a name, like most people, and got pretty used to it over the years. I'm a modern gal, but at his request I took my husband's name upon our marriage, so I acquired another name at this time. I earn my bread as a freelance writer by day, and for this I use a pen name. It's different from the pen name I'm using right now, which is the one I've reserved for certain self-publishing endeavors. I'm about to acquire another pen name for my day job (long story). So if I get a phone call, I have to clearly establish to whom the person wants to speak before I know who the heck I'm supposed to be.

It's a lot to deal with. I divide my day into parts, wherein I perform tasks for one name, then another, and eventually get to doing stuff for myself last. But sometimes it all becomes so overwhelming and confused, I don't know who "myself" is anymore. Am I supposed to be Jade right now, or someone else? I'll find myself triple-checking email accounts and Twitter screens because I'm afraid of confusing the one with the other.

If you've experienced the same type of identity crisis, I understand your pain. And because I'm Jade right now, I know exactly how to help. This is what I do.

It's even easier than you think. I've learned that the key to keeping it straight is not to bring everything together, but to keep it all separate. For example, Jade uses one browser across every device I touch: Mozilla. But I've got the Chrome app on everything as well, and another name uses this for their business. I have a third browser that's used for another name. It helps that I keep some of my identities linked to Google, and I have a helpful picture in the corner that I won't ever changed because then I won't know which browser goes with whom. It is a little exhausting, admittedly, but I don't get my different identities mixed up. Even their documents are stored in folders beginning with their initials (I mark a lot of stuff with initials). 

How you access your stuff, how you label your folders and files and which devices you use for what all matter. Set rules and boundaries on each of your identities; know what goes with whom. Use one cloud for this name, a different cloud for that one. Keeping your interests separate is the only way to keep them straight. The name you use as a self-published author is your professional name, so keep it professional. Put your personal stuff somewhere else, access it through different programs and remember who you are when you're online. Otherwise, your identity crisis could turn into a real crisis.

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