Presence

4th of July,celebrations,fireworks,holidays,Independence Day,special occasions
I’ve
recently begun reading
Kristen Lamb’s blog, which I highly recommend to
any writer/blogger.  She’s a goldmine of information
and also understands and teaches to finding success as a writer in the digital
age. 

Last week,
Kristen blogged about the importance of having successful author presence.   What
exactly does this mean?

As Kristen
noted, presence is a hard thing to explain, but if I were to take my stab at
defining it, here’s where I would start.  

Own Your Space

Presence is about
owning your space, whether that space means your blog, your book, your social media
page, your press kit, or in more general terms, your life.

Presence is
about utilizing that space to the best of your ability. It’s acknowledging that
words are powerful and making an intention to use them for good.  Ideally, we would all use the space that’s
rightfully ours, every inch of it, but a good writer also understands that he
should never feel like he needs to dominate the space of others.  Blogging can feel competitive at times, but
there is enough space for all of us.

Know Your Mission

I believe
that if you have a focus, you will be able to hold your presence more
easily.  That focus may change as you
evolve along with your writing and your subject matter, but know why you’re
here now.

Do you have
a mission?  With your book?  Your blog? 
Your life?

I have
one.  Go to my about page and you’ll find
it.  I highly recommend that every writer
– and human – has a mission.  When we
know why we’re here and what we’re trying to do, we stay on course and we’re
true to ourselves and our voices.  This
goes back to owning that space, which upon presence is created.

Be Honest  

I utilize my
space most effectively when I’m willing to be vulnerable.   When I’m willing to be vulnerable, I’m being
honest.  I’m showing you that I’m not
perfect.   I write at my best when I show you my flaws because
we connect and identify with each other’s flaws. We’re put at ease knowing we’re
“not the only one” who struggles with a certain personality trait or challenge
or weakness.     

Yet, I’m not
here to whine or flaunt my insecurities or to get reassurance from you on my
problems. Vulnerable does not mean needy. 
As Kristen noted, “We writers should be here
to teach/inform (NF) or entertain (NF/fiction), not to use our audience as
emotional hostages.”

I need to
always remind myself that you are not here for me but that I am here for you.

Work Hard

Kristen
discussed the importance of having confidence and noted, “Confidence is often
birthed from hard work.”  That made me
reflect on my early days as a blogger, someone who had been on an eight year
hiatus from fiction writing and who, during that time off, the extent of putting
words to paper had been making food shopping lists.  I wanted to write well and I worked hard at
writing well.  I revised posts that I had
already published because I would wake up in the middle of the night with a
better closing sentence than what I had used in the prior draft.  I still engage in this process, but in my
early days of blogging, I did it without having any readers. I had virtually no
visitors to my blog for the first two and a half months, with the exception of
a *very small* circle of personal friends and my sister.  But I still put out my best work in every
post. 

I believe
that our work as writers is never finished, and we need to be open to revision
as well as the constructive criticism from others.  I once heard an interview with Toni Morrison
where she said she never stopped revising 
her work– even after a novel went to market.

Be Humble

One of my
favorite quotes from Kristen’s article was, “Talent is highly overrated.  Character matters in this business. It’s why
I dedicate so much time to talking about the writer as a human being.  Without self-discipline, drive, humility, and
a certain work ethic, a writer won’t make it long term.”

Humility is
a big deal for me, as a writer, as a yoga teacher, a parent, and as a human
being.   Part of humility, for me, is being “right
sized,” and not overinflating or underinflating my own importance, which also
helps stave off my inner narcissist or the person who needs constant ego
stroking, as Kristen described in her post.

Be Grateful

For me,
gratitude will always be closely related to humility.  I take nothing for granted, from your visits
here, to your comments, to your re-tweets, to your support, and I am grateful
for all of it. Part of being grateful means paying it forward, something else
that Kristen talks about frequently. 
Because presence is not just about me, but it’s about me in relation to
you. 

Owning my space
is being aware that there would not be a “me” without a “you,” and honoring
that every way I can, first and foremost, by saying thank you, sincerely and
often.

xo

Ilene  

 

Your turn  – What does presence mean to you?  As a blogger? 
As a human being? 

 

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Comments

Presence — 56 Comments

  1. LOVE this, and have just shared it all over the place. Especially appreciate the part about “space for all of us.”
    My mission statement is a work in progress.

  2. Thank you so much, my friend! This article inspired me in so many ways. But I kept going back to that concept of space and creating space that’s talked about in yoga so much of the time. I think that when we are utilizing our space properly we inherently have that presence. And thank you for sharing!

  3. Definitely thought provoking. My blog has evolved in the short time I have been writing it, and I feel like it continues to do so. I probably should revise my About Page. Actually I definitely should revise it. But I’ll definitely be doing a little thinking about “my space” first. Thanks for the reminder!!

  4. This is fantastic! I haven’t read Kristen, but I’ll start!
    The about me page is huge. People need to know your focus. I spent some time at Linkedin yesterday, which forced me to be even more clear about my objective and skills.
    I’m with Justine, too. The part about there being room for all of us is important to remember. Sometimes I feel like I’m up against all these bigger bloggers, but I shouldn’t. I have my own skills and if I’m honest.. grateful… hard working… You are right. All of this leads to a bigger and stronger presence.

  5. While I do spend time thinking about my presence on my blog and in social media, I don’t think about claiming a space – or my presence – in all areas of my life. This is very thought-provoking and enlightening – it’s making me think about presence in bigger terms. I, too, LOVE the concept that our spaces shouldn’t compete with others’ – that there is room for us all.

  6. Absolutely ADORE this post. Yes, a thousand times, yes. We really feel like if you do not know exactly why and for whom you are doing all of this, it will never really find its natural path. So well said.-The Dose Girls

  7. I too love this post Ilene and it couldn’t have come at a better time. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my presence – in life and on my blog. Frankly I’ve been struggling with my blog a bit lately in terms of my voice, writing and sharing the things I want to share and really trying to figure out what my place is and where I fit. I’d’ve the idea that there is space for all of us because yes, it does feel competitive a lot of the time. I can’t wait to go read Kristen’s post. You have me motivated to work on my mission statement too.

  8. Stopping by from SITS and I have to say that I’m a bit muddled when it comes to my own writing mission and presence. I always have that nagging voice in my head telling me that there are so many others better than you and that I’ll never have the fortitude to finish. I’m definitely my own worst enemy. Some good things to think about.

  9. This is such a great post! I often step back and ask myself why I write, why I blog and where I want to go. Sometimes I have the answers and sometimes I need to take a break because I don’t. I LOVE the line about your best writing is when you are vulnerable and honest about your flaws because it connects with people in feeling like they are not alone. I think that is why I do a lot of the writing I do. I love real, genuine people that aren’t afraid to admit they are flawed. I love being on this journey with people and making them feel less alone. This is definitely a post to bookmark.

  10. I think the part about how your work as a writer is never done, even after it’s published, rings very true for me! And it also applies to photography. I learn new editing tricks and sources and I’ll see a photo I “completed” months ago and I’ll completely change it. I really never rest. This is a WONDERFUL post.

  11. Oh, this is just awesome!! I want to re-read it several times and soak up every wise word! Thank you for this encouragement, insight and guidance. Each point is absolutely critical to our life journey and our purpose and passion as writers. Thank you BFF!! Sharing…definitely sharing!! 🙂

  12. Yes, yes, yes! Character matters, as does humility, and especially writing your absolute best when you think no one is reading. Just love how you share with us, Ilene.
    I write to help, encourage, share, inform, support other moms. To know that someone gathered courage, instituted an idea, or found a way to smile because of something I offered in writing or in person just brings me to tears. I am constantly humbled by being able to help others.

  13. I so need to remember all the lessons here. You are so right – especially when it comes to humility and gratefulness. So important. And I have not been reading Kristen’s blog – here is a reminder that I may need to revisit it!

  14. So much to love here (thanks, Justine, for the link). What especially resonates for me is the part about right-sizing. Yoga is, indeed, helpful in being able to find your core, the place between over- and under-inflated. On a moment to moment basis.

  15. My mission statement is so broad, but it’s the best I can do. I seem to blog at my best when I share some life anecdote with a “moral to the story” that provides real life insight. I’m still not quite sure how to get that into an elevator speech!
    And yes, there is room for all of us. We all have something to say that’s worth saying and worth hearing. Let’s hear it for hard work and gratitude!

  16. Thanks, guys. And you nailed it – I think I had to blog for a while before I realized the “why” and the “for whom” but once I was clear, the path was clear. And I feel incredibly lucky for that. And I’m glad you know your “why” and your “for whom” because the blogosphere would be lost without Ashley and Lisa!

  17. Kristen is a rock star. Put her in your reader for sure! She is so motivating and full of great information. I also want to read her books.
    As far as presence and voice, it changes. It evolves. It has evolved so much for me since a year ago. I think it took me a good 9 months to express my real intention of being here in my posts – and it will continue to evolve. You have so much good to offer, that no matter which direction you go and where the path leads you, it will be invaluable for all of us lucky enough to be reading.

  18. As Kristen said in her post, talent is just part of the equation – I’m not saying you’re not talented – but please never let those thoughts stop you! And I don’t know how log you’ve blogging but I had to be in the space for a while before I was clear on my mission. Keep it up and perhaps your mission will find *you*.

  19. I think that’s why I too to you and your blog immediately. Because it was so clear to me that you are genuine. You tackle tough topics and tough days without backing down and that’s what people can connect with. In fiction writing, that main character better have obstacles for the story to be interesting. It’s more of less the same for us. I think you need to help your audience solve a problem or give them a new insight on a problem or just let them know that they’re not along because you’ve been there too. And you do that so well.

  20. Thanks, Tamara. Yes, I would imagine that this would have to ring true for you as a photographer as well! The work is never done. It’s tiring but also a good thing that the work is never done, right? I would assume the work not ever being done is part of the passion we have for our craft. We’re lucky for that!

  21. Thanks so much for your enthusiasm Chris! And it kind of parallels what you said today over at Mothering from Scratch – because we have to own it as mothers in the same way we need to own it as writers and bloggers. We need to make it ours, fill that space, and do it with humility and confidence and character – which you do, always.

  22. Kim, you know how much I love your blog and how much you’ve helped me, and I can completely relate to that joy when I know that I have touched or reassured or connected with someone else. It’s a gift to be in this space and be able to reach people like that.

  23. Hey, Michelle, I’m glad it resonated! And if you get a chance, check out Kristen’s blog. She writes for writers and bloggers but I think a lot of things will resonate with you as a photographer – a lot of the same challenges in that field. Last week she talked about having to be thick skinned and that would totally apply to anyone in a creative field!

  24. Somehow you are threaded into my soul! You continually speak to me! As I read this, I thought that YOU are definitely here for all of us. You keep us uplifted. You remind us that life doesn’t have to be perfect to still find the good. You keep us healthy in heart and mind. And as always, you remind me who I not only want to be but who I am. Much love!

  25. More and more, I’m finding that there is good in every moment and every day. There are so many stories I want to tell here – that talk about the good. And hopefully I will get to all of them. I love – absolutely love – being here for you. It’s a gift. xo

  26. I needed this today. Posts like these are the ones that keep me going when I sometimes wonder where I’m headed.
    I love where you talk about that you are here for your readers – and not the other way around. That’s so tough to remember as a writer, such an introspective activity. But that you believe it shines through in your writing so perfectly. Thank you!

  27. Even though there are days that you might not know where you’re headed, I 100% know you’re headed in a good direction. Yes, writing is an introspective activity, but you have a knack of sharing your heart in a way that grabs me – and I would assume – all of your readers and makes me go, “Yes! I can relate to that!” You describe the small moments with such artistry and remind me to soak those small moments up. So keep doing what you’re doing. Your blog is a gift.

  28. Great post, Ilene! My best writing comes when I allow myself to be vulnerable. This is a great post for anyone who needs to get their focus on where they want to take their blog, life, whatever.

  29. I struggle with some of these, especially presence. When I walk into a space, I fill it easily. I find it too simple to pour out beyond the boundaries of that space and make myself an overwhelmed person. Such a balancing act!!

  30. This is great information. I continue to develop my presence as I learn and grow. I am still a work in progress.
    Stopping by from TheSITSgirls.

  31. Eek. I am not sure what my mission is. Being a better writer. Connecting with others through writing. Joy. Sharing laughter. See? I am not there yet. Love this post.

  32. I’ll always maintain i’m on the field as a coach for the kids, not the other way around. The same goes for my readers. I love how you put this, and reminded us that we’re in our own space, but also have the ability to help others with a shoutout or retweet.
    I lost a reader today. So, I looked through my subscriber list to see if I could tell who it was. After 3.2 seconds, I stopped worrying about that. why?
    Because I saw the names and email addresses of those who still do read me. And I fell in love with them all over again.

  33. Ilene, I don’t even know where to start with this post. I feel like I could comment on every sentence. I love it. In my business, I help people find their presence. The first thing I ask them is what do you want to accomplish? Why are we here in the first place? I think we have to stay true to that mission once we find it. I think I’m only now discovering my mission and it has taken the other pieces you mentioned to get there!

  34. Thanks, Christie. I think there are a lot of great bloggers out there – including you – who have a wide scope. My scope is pretty wide but thematically – not so much tangibly – it all comes back to the same stuff. And I think being able to connect – like you said – is the most important part – for all of us, on the blogs, and in life.

  35. I truly believe that all of us have our own stories that are worthy of a space. There are so many fantastic blogs out there, and when I read a great post, I really do get excited and want to share it. When Kristen Higgins wrote her first post this week after being gone for about 2 months, I retweeted the heck out of it because I just missed her so much and was happy to see her words again.
    And I’m glad you stopped trying to figure out who unsubscribed from you because you’re right – it’s the readers you have today who matter.

  36. Thank you so much Jennifer! I really do believe we have to stay true to our mission – and yes, it took me time to find my mission with the blog but not that I have it, there are a lot of posts that never leave the draft stage because even though it might be decent writing, it doesn’t fit with my mission. So, I think you are giving your clients excellent advice!

  37. What a BEAUTIFUL shout-out. THANK YOU. And you added in so many other wonderful ideas. Humility is HUGE. It can be easy to get too big for our britches or let pride get in the way of learning and growing. This really made my week *BEAR HUGS*

    • Kristen, I LOVE your blog! You inspire me as a writer and as a human being every day. Thank you for all that you give and share! Bear Hugs right back! xo

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