Capitalize on Your Weirdness

Steve Roller again, with your final edition of The Writer's Life this week.

About the subject line of today's issue … don't take offense at "Capitalize on Your Weirdness." From one writer to another, I consider us all one big, happy, slightly off-kilter family. I mean it in a loving way, really.

We haven't met, but the fact that you're pursuing the writer's life tells me that you're a bit outside the norm.

You want more from life than just a steady job and paycheck. You want the opportunity for creative expression. You want to be able to work from anywhere, on a schedule that only you determine. You want to be highly compensated for your talents.

A lot of people want those things, but you're actually doing something about it.

That's different.

And if you're anything like me, not only do you march to the beat of a different drummer, but you also don't mind that other people think you're a little off (in fact, you might even enjoy it!).

I mean, people thought I was weird because I didn't go to a single drinking party in high school. Until they realized that I had spent my time studying and working to get scholarships to college.

They thought it was weird that I worked 80 hours a week during summer breaks from school. Until they found out that I had traveled to 19 countries before I graduated.

My friends and neighbors think I'm weird now for driving a rusted-out 1997 minivan. Until they realize the money I'm saving has taken my kids to five continents so far. (Of course, they still think leaving Wisconsin in the summer to spend a month in Ecuador is a little strange.)

How about you? What's your story? My guess is that if we had a deep conversation over a late-night bottle of wine, all kinds of good stuff would come out!

And you know what? That rocks! Because boring people make boring writers.

If your life has been less than perfect up to this point … if your career path has been an up-and-down ride like mine … if you've suffered setbacks and loss, but also incredible joy and happiness … if you believe that the best of life is yet to come … I predict that you will be a great writer.

We've been talking all week about reinventing yourself and living a life of no regrets.

Let me leave you with this.

If you truly want to make the writer's life work for you …

  1. Accept that you are going to be a little different. Even though you're surrounded by hundreds of like-minded souls here at AWAI, becoming a freelance writer is a bit outside the norm.
  2. Take inventory of what makes you unique (or, as I like to say, "weird").
  3. Claim it. Own it. Revel in your weirdness! Incorporate it into your story on your website and social media profiles.
  4. Use it to your advantage when determining a niche. If your hobby is running 50k races, focus on the ultra-fitness niche. If you're a self-help junkie with bookshelves full of Deepak Chopra and Wane Dyer programs, that might be a logical area for you. If you have dreams of leading Amazon jungle tours, give travel writing a shot.

And one last thing. Whatever direction of the writer's life you decide to pursue …

Immerse yourself in your identity! Whether it's an identity you've been cultivating all along or one that you're going to reinvent yourself into, throw yourself into it headlong!

Ten years down the road, you'll be able to look back and say, "No regrets."

Leave me a quick note by posting a comment below and let me know if you've ever had someone perceive you as weird (I'm hoping I'm not the only one). And tell me if you plan to parlay that into your writing.

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Published: August 19, 2011

65 Responses to “Capitalize on Your Weirdness”

  1. Thank you. This will help me pick a niche.

    YulandaAugust 19, 2011 at 12:25 pm

  2. The more I learn about creating the writer's life, the more I realize just how much I know about life and can share with others. Not that I'm a know it all, I'm just realizing that the things I do know, I can share and relate to others with.

    Weird... unique... original... whatever you want to call it, that's me. And there's only ONE me!

    Now that I realize I have a lot of "ammo" to run with, I don't have to try and become some sort of guru that I'm not. I have a lot better original info. that I can help people with.

    Guest (Dana )August 19, 2011 at 3:27 pm

  3. Hi Steve - thanks once again for this inspiring piece. So much has landed in a timely fashion to point the way through the scatter. I have often questioned the validity of my diverse experience. Your article plants a seed that there is a writer's life in my future....thank you and I look forward to more writing from you!

    Guest (kellie)August 19, 2011 at 3:31 pm

  4. Steve, I reckon 20+ years (in USA) being asked "where are you from" qualifies as my weirdness. The English accent I was born with is still there. So please help me Capitalize on this!!! Thank you

    michael vincentAugust 19, 2011 at 3:43 pm

  5. yah, bro !!! this is my favorite article yet! ... next to Michael Masterson's biz tips.

    my brother's poster of Wynton Marsalis says, "It's never to late to enter the world of musicianship."

    remember, dreamers who do make the world be true!

    ~ jon paul

    P.S. get yours! because you die living lovely OR die living dead !!! ;-)

    P.S.S. just be you and make your dreams come true!

    Guest ( jon paul)August 19, 2011 at 4:26 pm

  6. Reading your piece while sitting at my day job waiting for the last hour to creep by, was enough to get me to lift my head from resting on my hand. Your style is uplifting, your message inspiring - I am weird. Everyone tells me so. Some like it, some don't - I enjoy all the feedback. Finding that right niche may be easy for some, but I think for me it's been hard because generally I think I'm pretty boring or at least run of the mill, although very silly, you've renewed my faith in my path. I'm going home to write tonight while the rest of my friends go to the bar and wallow about how crumby life is at work. Thanks so so much!!!!

    Guest (LJ Innes)August 19, 2011 at 4:29 pm

  7. Steve...a few things. One, you need to know that your writing resonates deeply and struck a chord with me. I almost got that weird feeling of tears right behind my eyes. Two...my husband and I call our desire to create "our life" being "ON THE DARK SIDE". No 9-5 (really, 7:30-6), no hemming in and no excuses. Three, it's "wayne" dyer :)
    Thanks for a great article!

    MarisaAugust 19, 2011 at 4:30 pm

  8. What a great column! I've always been rather different and sometimes wished it were not so. You make it sound just fine and I thank you for that Steve. The writer's life is going to work for me for darn sure!

    barbarjoAugust 19, 2011 at 5:07 pm

  9. Ever since BFF Bob pointed out that the Mother Ship left me here for a reason, I've been trying to capitalize on the weirdness. Glad to know others feel the same! (Could use help with how to make it work ...)

    Thank you for some good approaches and encouragement.

    And while most of my paid writing has to be kinda stodgy and respectable, I hope to branch out into the kooky category every so often.

    Many thanks! Now...off to register for that B2B Challenge.

    BillieAugust 19, 2011 at 5:12 pm

  10. Think I can find a niche being a speculative fiction writer? :) Scifi, Fantasy, Twilight Zone...trying to figure out how to make that a niche!

    (I already know how AWAI can help my writing in the field, I need to reverse engineer that!)

    Anyways, thank you for all these articles, they've very motivational and uplifting.

    MickeyAugust 19, 2011 at 5:20 pm

  11. Let's see knife fighting, Rumi reading, subtle energy explorer/worker, divorced, maybe going to live on a sailboat soon, homeschooling guy who, after 35 years on the path, people ask for insights about spiritual matters and relationships. Now, what to write about?

    EricCAugust 19, 2011 at 5:51 pm

  12. Nice article, Steve. As a former innkeeper, I am seriously thinking about pursuing this niche, for copywriting and website services.
    And yes, I've never been one to run with the crowd; too smart, I take it.
    Like the rest of the copywriters I know!

    AliceAugust 19, 2011 at 6:26 pm

  13. Great point, Steve, Who the writer IS is a significant part of what makes the writer's Unique Selling Proposition (USP).

    On a personal note: You may be just a little more than weird to leave WI in the summer for anything--I grew up on a lake near Whitewater and now live in Houston, TX--I'm working my weirdness to buy a piece of WI-God's-Country for a summer heat-retreat and a piece of Ecuador for a winter migratory-home! Of course the writer's life unlike my former Teacher's makes it possible.

    Susan JaegerAugust 19, 2011 at 6:39 pm

  14. Steve, thank you! I've enjoyed the personal touch of your articles for Writers Life this week.

    Most of the time I quite like being perceived as a bit different, maybe even "weird"(!) - but it can get rough sometimes, & like you, I've been going through a roller coaster in recent times. So it's good to hear this encouragement from a fellow traveller.

    Enjoy your time in Quito - I was there last year, & yes, it is a truly awesome and inspirational place!
    I hope we can connect at Bootcamp...

    MaraAugust 19, 2011 at 7:00 pm

  15. Excellent article! I work in a B2B field that has a lot of ex-military folk (aviation) so they're pretty traditional and buttoned-up. The fact that I'm different from (being younger, female, and not quite so conservative) is something I've been trying to keep under-wraps. But you made an excellent point - if they wanted someone "like them," they would do the work themselves- they want somebody with different skills & should assume different personality!

    Guest (Paula Williams)August 19, 2011 at 8:16 pm

  16. I worked in broadcast sales for over 30 years, most of that time in local television. FYI, local TV salespeople make up about .0002 percent of any given population, and even in that rarified atmosphere I was considered "weird" or "different". So the writer's life will be a great fit for me!

    Guest (Denni)August 19, 2011 at 8:36 pm

  17. Love you Steve! I'm one of the ones who enjoys being on the weird side - so much more fun I think. I'm an outed, and proud (always have been), geek among other things and that is helping launch my High-Tech B2B Copywriting biz.
    Thanks for writing the article and putting perspective on value to our writing as well as celebrating uniqueness.

    Crystle PishonAugust 19, 2011 at 9:18 pm

  18. Thanks Steve, I really enjoyed your writings this week. Being in the process of REINVENTING myself, I found your writing to be very motivating and sincere. It helps me to realize that I am on the right track and in the right race.
    Thanks again, I needed this.

    Marcellus GreeneAugust 20, 2011 at 12:42 am

  19. Thanks for the article! I hate to be bored and I never want to be perceived as boring. I love to tell people about my crazy dreams and write stories about them. They are very strange and science-fiction-like. My favorite thing is to make my facebook status about them, but without telling anyone that it was a dream. I admit it... I'm WEIRD (but hopefully interesting.)

    Guest (alwaysbusymama)August 20, 2011 at 1:03 am

  20. I am an aspiring children's writer. I decided to pursue this to, as you say, capitalize on my weirdness. I have always enjoyed playing with dolls and stuffed animals, creating characters and stories around each one, so I decided to parlay that talent into creating stories for children.

    Guest (Serena)August 20, 2011 at 1:03 am

  21. iam even today perceived wird by those whom i think they have no goals just leaving to judge others, is hard but because of vision i have i,m able to not fell in that trap and also thanks for the article i m equiped more with it keep the great work comming thanks Richard

    Guest (Richard Makhubela)August 20, 2011 at 5:33 am

  22. Steve, There an old English saying that says the opposite: "All the world is strange, save the and me. And even thee's a little queer". (Don't mean you Steve)

    Political corectness activists have removed the word 'queer' from our language because they were confused by it. But you get the drift. There ain't no normal people. Just individuals...
    Andrew

    AndrewAugust 20, 2011 at 4:07 pm

  23. Weird? You could say I've been called weird a time or two. With ten brothers and sisters, I'm the one who says the unspeakable, thinks the unthinkable, does the impossible. I jump ship, change careers, and pretty much go against the "family" grain often. My siblings (and many acquaintances) aren't sure whether to respect my bold moves or tell people "he was adopted". All in good fun...I think! No regrets, I am what I am, and happy what AWAI (and disciples like you) is helping me to become.

    Jerry BuresAugust 20, 2011 at 10:36 pm

  24. Just wanted to say that I have enjoyed reading your posts this week. They were very appropo at this point in my life where I am making changes. Thanks!

    Paula MAugust 21, 2011 at 8:25 am

  25. wierd...and wonderful.

    yes, I agree - -be true to yourselfand avoid ciopying the masses just to fit in. be unique and stcik to your own principles if they help you achieve your goals.

    great posting - thanks

    Guest (paully)August 21, 2011 at 9:41 am

  26. @Steve - Yes, I have seen the article on writing children's books. I'm actually currently enrolled in the course at the Institute of Children's Writing.
    Thanks again for all your great articles!

    Guest (Serena)August 22, 2011 at 3:17 pm

  27. @Steve - Thank you for the inspiration. Yes I do have the British sense of humor and Yes I do feel like a stranger - but in a way that I would not change. As a salesman the British accent gets attention quickly.... I just want to capitalize on this and create my own business. cheers!

    michael vincentAugust 22, 2011 at 6:42 pm

  28. Thank you for this outstanding insight. YES we're in the perfect profession to be who we truly are--and make our living from it. It's super-motivation and deep-level truth, all at once. What a gift! Steve I'd love to chat at bootcamp and follow this idea a bit further, over coffee? wine? See you then.

    David WAugust 23, 2011 at 7:20 am

  29. Hmmm, this article actually inspired me to write a reply... Yay!
    No seriously, this gave me a glimpse at what lies behind the reinforced, bullet proof door my drive to write was hiding behind: I'm weird! I somehow managed to convince myself that anyone reading my work would want me to be 'normal'...Eeew! I'll now be less afraid to 'let it slip' that I am weird. (I also just realized that it was because of an accidental slip of such weirdness that I am zipping off to Paris tomorrow)Thank you :)

    Ellen VenterAugust 23, 2011 at 12:31 pm

  30. What a refreshing, inspirational article! I've always admired Thoreau's idea of marching to a different drummer, and this article updates that sentiment beautifully.

    Richard LaceySeptember 11, 2011 at 10:31 am

  31. Thank you for this clarity of vision--of COURSE I was thought to be weird. Especially by myself! I am an intuitive empath, I recently discovered, which explains SO much tht happened to me in my childhood, youth and adulthood--pain, emotional upheaval, etc. I thought I was an alien in my family( not really, but I was sure not like them) and no, I wasn't adopted... so thank you for this insight, and yes, I DO embrace my weirdness; my lifetime partner and husband is weird too, a talented artist himself, so we revel in it!!

    Guest (lynneartist)September 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm

  32. Wow, @lynneartist...and Steve...my husband and I have spent more time together in our 13 years of marriage, through unemployment and then both self-employment (me, a writer and dance teacher, him a writer and a designer) than either of our sets of parents did in their first 30 years of their respective marriages, and certainly more than any one else we know...I think we need another "page" to share what THAT's like! That may be the subject of me new website! AHA...

    MarisaSeptember 29, 2011 at 10:08 pm

  33. Clearing out and filing my Inbox shortly BEFORE Boot Camp. What an inspiration, reading this on Sat. a.m. from my BED! Looking to meet YOU and to shake/bump your hand! Define my niche (still haven't found it!) AND absorb all the wonderful, helpful info from AWAI and people like yourself. Weird? Who, me? Well, thank you very much for noticing (no longer the albatross it once was!). Wearing my mantle proudly; spend 10 minutes and we could trade lots of stories...thank you again!

    Guest (Gypsy Rover)October 22, 2011 at 12:40 pm

  34. No worries. You're not alone. I have known since I was a little girl that I at least think about things in a different way than other people. You're right. I have never been bothered by it, I love it. It would be so boring to be like everyone else and I bore easily. I have been called a free spirit.

    Mary COctober 15, 2012 at 7:07 pm

  35. Former ballerina who toured the world. After retirement got degree in journalism/history so I could write about anything I wanted. Became an NRA firearms instructor after I bought a firearm and didn't know what to do with it - so took classes - and loved it! Have been a market research analyst, a kitchen and bath designer, and now running my own business which I built myself, not anyone else - except for the clients that hire me. Writing will take me to my last day on Earth. Where's the wine?

    Sherlock26October 18, 2012 at 6:43 pm

  36. How did I miss this? Phil Bogan just turned me on to this after asking what were my favorite books when I was a kid. That must mean something. This article really resonated with me (because I was a weird kid for liking Thurber?), and I'm almost done with my outline for my first book. And I'm firmly convinced life would end on earth without us weird ones.

    George MSeptember 4, 2013 at 6:51 am


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