Thursday, 19 May 2011

Designer Labels by Rebecca Woodhead

You are wearing a label, whether you know it or not, and everyone can see it. What label did you pick? Unpublished Writer? Writer-To-Be? Did you even choose your own, or did you just accept one that someone else handed out? Maybe it no longer fits, but you wear it anyway, because it’s familiar, it doesn’t make you stand out from your peers, and nobody is offended by it. It is safe. The idea of throwing aside a worn out old label and designing your own may be a little fear-inducing, but what if you gave it a go?

For a long while, ‘Author’ seemed out of my emotional price range. Even ‘writer’ stretched the wallet a bit. I wanted to give myself the aroma of that label though, the scent of future success, so I took the word that seemed furthest from my budget – ‘Author’ – and formatted it into an off-the-peg arrangement that I could wear: ‘Author-In-Waiting’.

If you cannot afford a Gucci outfit, you can still own a little of their magic. You can buy their perfume. For a long time before the reality arrives, you can smell of the dream. The same is true of writing dreams. One day, I put aside my ‘Author-In-Waiting’ ensemble and picked up the expensive designer bottle, labelled ‘Writer’. Something changed. Other people started to take me more seriously, because I started to take myself more seriously. Instead of passively waiting for success to come to me, I wore my label and made it happen.

Once you wear a label, your subconscious battles away to make the outside and inside versions of you match. That happens whether or not the label is positive. If you continually label yourself as something ‘in waiting’, you are always waiting. If your label is ‘unpublished’, guess what? You will stay that way. The scary thing about choosing your own label is that it is a public declaration of intent. Once you have done it, you can never go back.

Oscar Wilde said: ‘I find it harder and harder every day to live up to my blue china.’ Wilde’s blue china was an outward symbol of the Aesthetic Movement. For you, the symbol of being a published author might be a physical book. Label yourself, and grab a symbol of that. Call yourself an author, then get your book printed – even if you print only one copy. Put it in a place where you cannot avoid looking at it. Make it your blue china, and work every day to live up to it.

Rebecca Woodhead

Labels are a major theme in my debut novel, Palaces & Calluses, which is available for Kindle, iPad, iPhone, Sony Reader, Nook, Kindle for PC, and in PDF format.

Rebecca Woodhead is an author from the Cotswolds. Her debut novel, Palaces & Calluses, is available from in a variety of formats. She writes for Writing Magazine and Groupon, has appeared in books about Twitter in both the USA and UK, and is one of the 'Top 100 Most Powerful Women on Twitter' in the world, according to Twitter Grader. Her blog is


  1. Lovely to see you here, Rebecca. I remember reading Paul McKenna saying something similar - he encouraged people to start writing imaginary cheques to get used to feeling like they had money. I'm not particularly convinced by his advice, but the example you give makes absolute sense. One thing I did as soon as I had the cover for my new book was get a skin made for my netbook with the cover design on (pic - it doesn't cost a fortune (about £15 from, is good advertising, a real incentive to write more (I write on the bus a lot more now because that way people get to see the cover and you never know, may end up getting it for their Kindle then and there!), and most of all, really makes you feel the part.
    It's the same as I always used to wear my gown when revising for finals. And when I do a reading I always dress up for it in an outfit I wouldn't wear every day because it gets me into the mindset, and that, as you say, is a fair part of the battle.

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  3. Thanks JAM ! It is very well written post. I do agree with you. Well said..Labels are a major theme in my debut novel. I am looking forward for more good post...
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