Yesterday morning (yes, 2:00 AM counts as morning) I read an article by David Farland. The clickbait on Twitter was something along the lines of: “All the Internationally Bestselling Authors I Know Use This One Neat Trick”.
Mr. Farland has mentored incredibly successful wordsmiths, including some of my favorites, so I clicked the link. In the post, he goes on to say:
Over the past three decades, I’ve helped a number of writers reach the point where they’ve become international bestsellers, and I’ve spotted a trend. Most bestsellers attract an audience in part because they are charismatic.
So, most authors who’ve achieved worldwide fame and fortune are very charismatic. Great. I don’t want to be a celebrity of any kind, although a little fortune might not hurt.
I don’t disagree with Mr. Farland’s statement. He also draws parallels between charisma and four characteristics he says comprise it: competence, willingness to show vulnerability, confidence, and friendliness. If you have the right minimums, he says, you can be anywhere on the scale with each. For example, super competent people don’t need to be as friendly and vice versa. Incredibly friendly people don’t have to show as much vulnerability, etc.
To me, this was the saving grace of the article; I’m not the most friendly person… I’ve been told that sometimes I come off like a jerk because I don’t regularly think before I speak.
Other times, my brain takes off in a wholly different direction from the conversation at hand, because someone mentioned a problem my cerebrum thinks it can solve. Yes, I have “squirrel syndrome”. The awkwardness sets in when I start to get excited about a side quest in my head, and I can’t stop myself from interrupting to tell people about it.
So, I will continue to practice writing, and hopefully I’m getting better. I need to get higher on the competence and confidence scales, because no one will think that buying my books is a good idea based on shining good nature alone!
This post brought to you by an animation of a few of the many pictures I took of a squirrel in Washington DC last year. Yes, surrounded by breathtaking monuments in our nation’s capital, I was taking photos of a squirrel.
2 thoughts on “Competence Versus Charisma”
Of course I wrote this powerful, meaningful message yesterday … and then forgot my password to login. So today you get my second try and I’m never as brilliant the second time around. I do remember that I said I liked your squirrel and if it’d been me, I’d probably have been taking pictures of the squirrels, too.
I think I also said that we all have strengths and weaknesses, but one thing I think all successful writers have is confidence in their work. I really think that’s essential. You have to believe in your stories or else why should your reader?
Also, it’s okay if friendliness isn’t your strong suit, just don’t abandon yourself to jerkiness. I’ve known some Class A jerk writers in my life and I don’t think it’s done them a bit of good.
You’ve got the right idea though–just keep writing and rock it hard. Good luck to you!
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David, thank you for the wonderful comment. What a great surprise! I try every day not to be a jerk. I’m occasionally reminded that I don’t always succeed, but I never give up the good fight. :)