What You Should Know About Writers

We writers are a strange breed. Not everyone understands the joy we feel when we find the right word, when we meet our deadlines, when we find the perfect transition to join two scenes, etc. Most of the time, when we say we like to write or when we say we are writers, the reaction is something like, “So, when are you going to be published?” or “How can you concentrate on writing when you have the Internet right there in front of you?” or “Don’t quit your day job.” Here is a list of what you might want to know about those enigmatic human beings called writers:

-We need time alone. Writing (especially getting that first draft down) is a solitary activity, unless you’re working with another author. For the most part, interruptions and noise will only annoy us. I firmly believe that one of the best gifts you can give a writer is silence and alone time.

-We don’t all write to be formally published. Not everyone wants their work to be seen by millions or even by thousands or hundreds. Some writers write for themselves, for a small community, or for just a few family members and friends. Publication does not make a mediocre writer into a good one or a good writer into an excellent one. There are plenty of terrible books that have been published, and there are many literary masterpieces that will never be published.

-We don’t write to make money. I think that if you are lucky enough to make money from your writing, that’s icing on the cake. But writers should write to feel the joy of creation. If your primary goal is to make money, you might just be writing for the wrong reason. The vast majority of writers do not make even a fraction of the money Stephen King makes in a year.

-We like to observe and listen. We sometimes drift off into space in the middle of a conversation, but that could be because we have just envisioned the next epic scene for our story, or we’ve seen someone walk by who reminds us of one of our characters. We’re watchful. Yes, sometimes this does equate to absentmindedness, but it’s never a waste of time (or maybe that’s just my excuse). Daydreaming for a writer is productive more often than it is not.

-We love books. Books help us, inspire us, and teach us. If you ever meet a writer who says he or she doesn’t read, let that be a red flag. In order to write, you must read. After all, what artist doesn’t like to appreciate art? What filmmaker doesn’t like to watch movies? If you’re looking for a gift for a writer, the bookstore is often the perfect place to go.

-We keep things. Lots of things. Maybe this isn’t true of all writers, but I know it’s true of me. We can be packrats. We keep old newspapers, letters, and every journal we have ever written in since we were nine years old. All of these things may look like useless junk, but to a writer, they can be valuable mines of information, ideas, and inspiration.

So now you know a little bit more about your writer friends. 🙂

13 thoughts on “What You Should Know About Writers

  1. All very true (I’m going to link to this next time I post), but this is my favorite: “We don’t all write to be formally published.” This just seems to baffle people. I remember my father always had a writing project going, and my mother still draws (and used to paint). Why are people surprised that artistic creation is not always a commercial enterprise?

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  2. I especially like ‘We like to observe and listen’ as I can relate to it the most! I always see things in the street or how someone acts to give me an idea for a character. And the best feeling is when all those ideas click together and you have the next part of your book. Great post :).

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  3. Hi Maggie. You’ve squarely hit the writing nail in MY head with every point you make. They all fit me exactly … except for one thing: I have been accused of not being a good listener. Maybe it’s true, but I believe I get what people mean better than most, with less effort. So I listen differently. Good post. Thank you for sharing it.

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