Imagine you’re the author of seven wildly successful novels that sold millions of copies and were turned into blockbuster films.
Imagine how it would feel to know that disparagement of your work is as prolific as book sales.
Imagine The Australian Financial Review sneered that you ‘could barely write a sentence’. And that clunky, clumsy and ham-fisted are just some of the words used to describe the way you write.
Imagine they’re not talking about Dan Brown (they are) but about you. You divide opinions but still rake in the money (an eye-watering amount).
Would you call yourself a writer?
Critics say no – fans say yes.
‘(Brown’s) storytelling and short chapters make for a comfortable read unlike something dense and riddled with large words.’ (Reddit post)
Is it popularity or skill that makes you a writer?
The critic who claimed Brown could barely write a sentence went on to concede that in his religious conspiracy fiction (‘The Da Vinci Code’ and more), he ‘had his finger on the zeitgeist’.
Is zeitgeist more important than literary chops? Is pleasing the readers what counts?
Does calling ourselves a writer make a difference?
I’m working my way through an excellent (free) 30-day programme from organisational psychologist Dr Benjamin Hardy. It’s based on his new book, ‘Personality isn’t Permanent’ that explores ways we can intentionally design our future based on how we think of ourselves.
I’m beginning to see that the labels we adopt, consciously or unconsciously, can have a big effect on what we achieve. Some people are derailed by criticism of their work, yet others forge ahead regardless. Is their label a kind of armour?
Dan Brown considers himself a writer and he writes books. Successfully if you count the dollars alone.
I haven’t written any books (yet) but I’m a writer too. Yes, it’s part of the work I do in marketing but even if it wasn’t, I would still claim it. It’s what motivates me to spend time thinking, questioning and writing every day outside my job.
A title is ‘a descriptive name that is chosen or earned’.
I’ve chosen the title of ‘Writer’. I’m earning it by doing the work. I’m designing the future I want through being intentional about my label.
Are you a writer?
(By the way, if you’re interested, Ben Hardy’s programme is called ‘Future Self’ and it’s free).