One of the things that I’ve learned about being a writer is that you need a platform in order to share, promote and market your work. Sometimes this is called branding, which honestly just makes me roll my eyes, but writers owe it to themselves to know their subject matter and themes so well that they can summarize their platform succinctly.
When I first heard about creating an author's platform, I wasn’t sure what that meant. A friend of mine, also a writer, made it very simple for me. She asked me this: “What do you stand for? What do you believe in? What are you willing to fight for?” I had to give it some thought, but in all of those questions I found a strength of conviction in my answers.
I stand for lifting up women. I believe in encouraging, supporting and cheering on women to reach for the stars, and therefore their greatest potential. I’m willing to fight for women’s equality and the right to do life on their own terms. I will forever be an advocate for women and women’s rights.
My platform has not changed from one book to the next. Even though this platform is not always the crux of my subject matter, it always informs my work. I write about aging and women; how we see ourselves and how the world sees us as we get older. Having a platform impacts my articles, essays and the next manuscript. But I’ve begun to see that having a platform can and should apply to everyone’s life. In fact, I think learning what your platform is, is a way to nourish and grown self-awareness.
There's a danger in following someone because we think that they represent us or reflect our ideas and ideals. While someone may represent those things, we still need to run it through our own filter, our own platform – personal truth does not live inside of someone else – it can only be found within yourself. Contemplating what you stand for, what you believe in, and what you’re willing to fight for, gives clarity to your vision, purpose and potential.
Self knowledge reveals all things. When we can question and reflect upon the platform in our personal lives, we gain self knowledge. The late psychiatrist Carl Jung wrote “The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.” We cut ourselves short by not reflecting upon our beliefs and what it is that we stand for. The questions of who we are and who we want to become holds strong and true for each decade of our life. It’s the wise woman (or man) who makes a commitment and sets an intention to live the examined life, thereby knowing and living the answer to those personal inquiries.
At the writing of this blog post, I’m watching a woman in Washington DC who knows what she stands for, what she believes in and what she’s willing to fight for. Her name is Liz Cheney. She inspires me to always know myself and what I believe in. This is a woman who is not backing down in the face of adversity, and I respect her for standing in the light of her truth and using her voice.
Some people will follow others because they don’t like to look at themselves too closely. But the woman who knows who she is and what she stands for, is a heroine. Ms. Cheney is not afraid of paying a price to take action upon her truth. This is how the world makes positive change – by telling ourselves the truth and not being swayed by popularity, celebrity or any negativity that is aimed our way.
I stand for lifting up women. I believe in a woman’s right to speak her truth. I write about these things and today I am happy to see the example of what I care about, so beautifully demonstrated in a woman in leadership. Thank you Ms. Cheney.
What do you stand for? It’s not just for writers. That question is for everyone. And, it’s really good for all of us to take on the sobering reflection of what our personal truth, our platform, represents inwardly and then outwardly in the world.