Seven Lessons Writers Can Learn from Superheroes


(We interrupt the Who What When Where and Why series for this post about superheroes.)

I seldom read articles unrelated to archaeology, history, theology, women’s issues, or writing. But the headline of a Huffington Post article intrigued me, and I laughed at my desk when I realized how Seven Lessons from Superheroes applied to authors. I quote from the article, and encourage you to read it via this link.

wonder_woman_costume1. We all have alter egos. “You can use those different sides of yourself to tap into the “right one” for a given situation—the one that best helps you achieve your goals.” Access your alter egos to get into your characters’ heads, as well to craft believable dialogue and scenes.

2. The costume counts. “Based on how you appear, they make inferences about you (which may or may not be true). And those inferences will affect how they treat you, which will in turn, consciously or unconsciously, affects you.” This item applies so strongly to meetings with literary agents and acquisitions editors. I tell my adult children to dress for the job they want, not the job they have. Dress the part of a professional, successful author!

3. We are all different. “But the specific constellations of physical and psychological characteristics, and experiences, makes each of us unique.”  Write from your unique voice. Don’t try to copy someone else, or adapt to a genre because it’s selling.

4. Being different can give you power. “Decide how to use this way of being different to give you more meaning and purpose. Can you use it to help other people?” Again, your unique voice can rock your world, and hopefully, your readers’. Find a way to express and package it, then use it for the common good.

5. Adversity can be overcome. “Adversity induces us to challenge our beliefs about ourselves and the world, and then to develop new meaning, fulfillment, and connections to others as a result.” As my mentor stresses, conflict pulls a reader in. And the triumph that (usually) follows enriches your world (as an author), and theirs.

6. No matter what your abilities, life can still be frustrating. “The ability to persevere in the face of frustration is a superpower.” There’s less than one-half of a one percent chance an unpublished author will receive a traditional publishing contract. Enough said?

7. Running toward danger: overcoming your fears. “When we’re afraid of something, we try to avoid it, but in doing so, our lives may become narrowed. When this happens, we can take a page from a superhero book, take a deep breath, learn some new skills, and face our fears.” Whether a difficult scene, pitching at a conference, or choosing a publisher, writing can be scary. But you have to live to write, and embracing fear as an author will push you to a higher plane, enabling you to share growth and victory to engage your readers.

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