I recently met with someone who runs a PR firm, and he advised me that when I market myself as “just a writer’, potential clients pigeon-hole me as “merely” a developer of content. What they want is a big picture person who can make something extraordinary happen for their organization.
As a writer, that advice was not good for the ego.
Just a writer.
Then something else happened. I have been creating content for a small non-profit working in South Africa. I drafted the original content for their website. I write most of the articles for their quarterly newsletter. I helped develop an educational tour brochure. Then almost by accident, I introduced the organization’s founder to a few women who immediately saw the big picture, and could make a big impact.
In only two meetings, they came up with a list of to-dos that have the potential – if successful – to take this small non-profit to the next level. Even the level after that.
Just a writer.
I have always wanted to be a writer. And it’s not that as a writer, words are all I have to offer. It is that I get caught up in the details of what I am writing – finding the perfect phrase, pulling on heartstrings, making readers laugh. And while not everyone can do that well, most people can do it well enough as long as the big picture people get it right.
As long as I think of myself as someone who merely develops the content, I do not require myself to think strategically, take the lead, embrace the responsibility for success or failure. I find myself waiting for someone else to make something happen – or not – so I have something to write.
If I market myself as “just a writer”, (and that is all I have ever wanted to be), people won’t expect anything else from me. Just words on paper. And eventually, I will start to doubt my own ability to envision the big picture. I will cease to believe that I can make an impact.
The PR guy with the advice, followed by two conversations with people who think big, sent this aspiring writer a message. Raise the bar. Stretch. Deliver more than words. Think big. Make an impact.
As the big picture person, writing about my own big ideas, I might write a better story… which might still be the goal of the newly minted big impact strategist who secretly wants to be “just a writer”.