I was an English major with a creative writing emphasis. When I looked to my future, I saw myself writing.
Over the years I managed to build a writing career, but as an English major, I wasn’t prepared for the business aspects of writing.
Invoices, receipts, taxes? That was all foreign to me. Sharing my writing through speaking and social media? That’s not what I imagined when I launched my writing life.
I thought I’d be…writing.
But I had to understand and embrace the four key roles that lead to a flourishing writing career.
This is how I think of them:
These four roles in a corporate setting might be something like:
The Decider is like the CEO, the Chief Executive Officer. That’s the top dog, the visionary, the decision-maker.
The Delegator could be the COO, the Chief Operations Officer, the person who figures out how to run the business at a practical level.
The Doer could be the CWO, the Chief Writing Officer. This role, the CWO, doesn’t exist in the business world, but we’re inventing and elevating it for this discussion because it’s the reason our business exists. Like me, you launched this whole thing so you could write.
The Declarer is like the CMO, the Chief Marketing Officer: the person who ensures the message gets out.
At any given moment, a flourishing writer may be completing a task that falls under any one of these areas. Some of the tasks and roles don’t seem like the work of a writer, but they all support that core function.
When all four areas are addressed, a writer will start to build a profession, a career, and a sustainable writing life.
And it starts with the Decider.
THE DECIDER, THE CEO
The DECIDER—the boss, the CEO—is the person making high-level decisions about your writing career.
You fill this role.
You decide your author brand, your audience, your career path.
As the Decider, you determine a trajectory that aligns with your goals and values.
- You decide if you’re in learning mode and need to gain more skills or more knowledge of the profession.
- You decide if you’ll focus the next quarter on submitting to literary magazines or developing a book proposal.
- You decide if you’ll pursue fiction or nonfiction, short-form or long-form.
- You decide if you’re ready to increase visibility online.
When those decisions are grappled with and made, you get to step into a second, practical role—that Delegator, the COO.
THE DELEGATOR, THE COO
The DELEGATOR-you, this COO, is the administrator, the project manager—the person who figures out who will be responsible for a task or activity.
When you’re the Delegator, you take those decisions and figure out the best way to pull them off.
If you decide, as the CEO, you need to learn, then the COO or this Delegator-you will research books, courses, and conferences and figure out which ones are best.
The Delegator looks into social media solutions and determines whether to hire someone to map out a marketing campaign or a designer to create images. Or the Delegator might delegate all this work to herself and take a DIY approach. In this instance, you might set up Canva to create images for all your social media feeds and Stories.
As Delegator, you set up calendars with deadlines. You determine practical matters, like apps to use, editors to hire, and ideal systems to set up, so the work gets done effectively and efficiently.
You’re in this role when you’re researching laptops and asking other writers if they use Scrivener. If you set up a project management system in Trello, ClickUp, or Notion, you’re in this operational mode.
And as Delegator, you tackle every English major’s nightmare: how to create invoices, save receipts, and report taxes.
This operations role that pulls off the decisions, usually delegating activities, is a practical, supportive aspect of our writing life and career. It’s devoted to setting the writer—the Doer—up for success.
THE DOER, THE CWO
The DOER is the CWO. As I said, the Chief Writing Officer doesn’t really exist in a business, but for the sake of this discussion, we’re coining this term. After all, it’s why all the other roles exist: so the writing gets done.
The Doer-you? This is what you thought you signed up for all those years ago. It’s why I majored in English. I wanted to write.
It’s why you’re reading this article by a writing coach, I’ll bet. You’ve got ideas to share and stories to tell.
The Doer commits to the creative work that you love most.
The Doer is the Writer.
When you’re the Doer, you research topics, outline projects, develop the message, and craft the story.
In fact, not to complicate this further, but the CWO, as chief writing officer, has tasks that you could almost break down into additional areas of responsibility, additional roles.
Because at any given moment, the Doer, the writer, the CWO, will:
- Generate ideas
- Organize and outline
- Revise and edit
- Finalize the project
- Title it
- Prep it to publish
The creative Doer wrangles words onto the page or the screen and completes the project.
You’ll probably feel deep satisfaction when you’re operating in this role because that’s the core work. That’s why this business you’re in, exists.
Once a project is complete, the work feels finished. The Doer thinks they’re done.
But how will people read what you’ve written unless you declare that it’s ready to be read?
How can they find it unless you point to where it lives online or in print?
THE DECLARER, THE CMO
That’s where the DECLARER comes in, the CMO, the Chief Marketing Officer. After you complete a writing project, you share it and get the word out about it.
As the Declarer, you use marketing and promotion tools to creatively get your message in front of the people who need it most.
Most creatives I work with detest this role. They feel weird, sleazy, awkward, or ineffective and want no part in tooting their own horn or praising their own work. They hate the idea of this role of a CMO.
I kept hearing this from clients.
They wanted to write, not show up on social media or get people on an email list.
They wanted to write, not pitch themselves as a podcast guest or submit their work to an online publication.
Find Other CMO-Minded Writers
I wanted to be able to recommend something to these frustrated writers, but I couldn’t find a great solution focused on the needs of the writer-CMO, so I formed a membership called Your Platform Matters. It’s dedicated to helping writers build a platform and become visible and findable by the readers they want to reach.
We teach the D.E.E.P. platform method that avoids sleazy or unethical tactics and instead, maps out practical approaches for connecting with people in meaningful ways. They’re thinking now like CMOs, reaching and serving readers by taking time to Declare that the work is available.
I hope it helps you reframe this role of the Declarer, the CMO, when you realize you’re serving the words you’ve written, the project, when you share it with others.
You know what else? You serve the reader when you share it, too.
Get Your Message in Front of Readers
If you believe in your message enough to write it down, why wouldn’t you also share it to get it in front of the people you were thinking of when you wrote it?
A publisher shared this with me years ago. We talked about my becoming a speaker—something I’d never considered or imagined at the time. I didn’t want to get in front of others.
He said, “Could you see speaking as another avenue to share that same message? Your words—your message—spoken?” I got it. I had to agree. Even though I didn’t think of myself as a speaker, I did want to share that message.
I started speaking and I’ve continued to speak for all these years…declaring, in essence, the messages I feel compelled to share.
As a Declarer myself—as CMO of my own modest writing business—I’m looking for ways to reach readers in meaningful ways with the message that the Doer-me has worked so hard to craft and complete.
And part of how I do that is by helping others reach their readers.
WRITERS AREN’T ALWAYS WRITING
The point in reminding you of these four areas and roles and tasks is that writers aren’t always writing.
At times, you may take on another role and follow through with another task. And that task may keep you from technically writing.
It feels strange and counterintuitive, but all of these roles—and all the related tasks and responsibilities—they all exist to serve the writer, the writing, and ultimately, the reader.
If you’re an English major, trust me:
- You can make decisions about your writing career that set you up for success.
- You can research how to pull those decisions off and what support you need in terms of equipment, tech, apps, and a team.
- You can figure out invoices, receipts, and taxes.
- You can share your words with others with integrity and empathy so your writing doesn’t sit unread on your hard drive or even on a dusty corner of the Internet.
Embrace these four key roles. At any moment, your work may require the Decider-you, Delegator-you, Doer-you, or Declarer-you to step up and do something. For your business to succeed, you may need you to step into the CEO, COO, CWO, or CMO position.
Find freedom in recognizing that you may not have your fingers on the keyboard this afternoon doing the work of writing, but you may be serving the work in another capacity so the words will be read by the right person at the right time.
- Your Platform Matters (membership program with training, coaching calls, and a dedicated community space for writers ready to reach readers—perfect for the CMO-Declarer)
- Your Compelling Book Proposal (book proposal training with three levels of coaching support)
- Work With Me (learn how to work with me as your writing coach one-on-one)
Join us in Your Platform Matters (YPM)
YPM is a warm and welcoming membership community committed to creative, meaningful ways we can grow our platform and reach readers—check us out!