There’s a famous story about Mary Kay cosmetics founder Mary Kay Ash. It is said (and I have no idea whether it’s true or not) that each morning before she began calling potential clients from her kitchen table she had a routine. She would dress professionally, including stockings and shoes, do her make up carefully (after all, that was her product), and style her hair. Only after she looked like a million bucks would she begin her sales calls. On the phone. From her house.
No, nobody saw her. She could have been in curlers wearing her pajamas, after all, her clients couldn’t see her. But she was convinced that it made a difference. She presented herself as a successful business person, and to her clients she came across as exactly that. The woman built an empire, and you still see the occasional pink Mary Kay Cadillac driving around.
Her story isn’t unique. Many successful people report that they behaved as if they were already a success before they achieved whatever goal they sought. Malcolm Gladwell’s book Outliers provides more good examples of the ways that people set themselves up for success. A strong belief is one piece of the success puzzle, and one over which we have control.
I’m a writer. I’m successful. I think of myself as a writer, and behave like a writer (whatever that means), and I let people know I’m a writer. Do I have a book contract? Not yet. Have I been printed in prestigious periodicals? Not yet. But it’s coming.
What makes me a writer? Besides my mindset, it’s the numerous small things that I do. Here are a sampling of my “writer” things:
1. I have a dedicated place to do my writing, I call it my studio
2. My hard drive is called “writer’s den”
3. I receive and read publications for writers (Writer’s Digest, Poet’s and Writers, and the Barefoot Writer)
4. I submit my writing to websites and periodicals for publication (and guess what, sometimes they get published)
5. I blog, regularly
6. I attend writer’s workshops and conferences
7. I have a writing partner and we meet to read and critique each other’s work
8. I seek out good writing and read it
9. I have a writing website currently under construction
10. I write!
There are others too, I’m sure. It’s just a part of who I am.
What makes you a ______________ (fill in the blank)? Until I have a byline in the New York Times or a book deal I’m going to keep doing the things that make me a writer. In fact, even after those things happen I’ll be doing these things.
Do you believe in “fake it til you make it?” What steps have you taken in your own life along these lines? I’d love to hear from you.
March 18, 2015 at 7:11 am
I definitely fake till I make it.. A good example is becoming a tutor at the tutoring center… No one gave me a crash course in what I would be helping students do.. at all.. I was just thrown in and told “you’ll be fine”.. bullcrap.. Sentence structure when I’m doing it for a paper may come naturally.. but explaining WHY it’s right was like explaining a whole new language to certain to people including myself.. for a good portion of those I tutored it WAS a new language…If I acted like I didn’t know what I was doing then the people I tutored would have no faith in what I was telling them… 😉 now I think I’m not that bad of a tutor but still some times I just don’t know..
March 18, 2015 at 1:25 pm
We learn so much by having to teach it to others. Great example. Thanks for sharing it!
March 18, 2015 at 7:17 am
maybe that’s the reason that I get no book contract? because I wear my ole jogging pants and a really ugly sweater while writing? …I will try it the other way, maybe it works :o) maybe that what makes me a writer is, that I write with my keyboard and my heart :o)
March 18, 2015 at 1:26 pm
Ha Ha! I don’t dress up either, but then again I’m not selling cosmetics. 🙂
March 18, 2015 at 8:44 am
I’m a writer whether or not anyone reads what I write. I’m a quilter and designer whether or not anyone else uses (or buys) my designs. I get to define myself. In so doing, I also create disciplines to make that definition fact, not fiction.
You may be interested in seeing my most recent blog post, which discusses how I define myself and how I behave.
March 18, 2015 at 1:27 pm
“I get to define myself. In so doing, I also create disciplines to make that definition fact, not fiction.” So well said!!!! Thanks for the link, Melanie, and the wonderful feedback.
March 18, 2015 at 10:35 am
Good for you! I was inspired to begin thinking of myself as a writer (published or not, read by others or not) after I read Julia Cameron’s “Right to Write.” She was instrumental in reminding me that writing itself makes one a writer when one engages in that activity, and that our obsession with being published or famous doesn’t change that fact. So write on… and I will, too!
March 18, 2015 at 1:28 pm
So many of us like-minded individuals! Thanks for the recommendation, I will look for it.