A Writer’s Traits, Continued
Continued from last week… here are the last five traits of a writer.
6. Like being alone The funny thing about being a writer is that we tend to write when we’re not actually with anyone else. Yes, some writers write best in a coffee shop or when surrounded by other people, but you’re not actually with those people. Writing is a job that you do by yourself. We can have other people help us. We can even have a co-writer, but it’s still pretty much done by yourself.
The wonderful thing about being a writer, however, is that despite the fact that you are alone writing, doing it by yourself, you’re not actually alone. You are with the people of your story. You’re surrounded by them, living them, hearing them in your head as your fingers tap out their words, their movements, and their story.
Writing is the one job that you do entirely by yourself and yet are never really alone.
7. Thick skin No matter what you write or where you publish it or who you show it to, someone is going to say something negative about it. That’s just life. You can be the best writer in the world, have been on the New York Times Best Seller list—whatever—but someone is still going to say something not nice about your writing. Someone is going to criticize you.
This is the hardest thing for new writers. It hurts.
You put so much time, energy and yourself into your writing and then some idiot comes along and tells you that it sucks, or it needs work, or it is somehow not as wonderful as you thought it was. How dare they? Don’t they know how hard you worked on that?
Sadly, it doesn’t matter. And it also doesn’t matter whether they’re right or not. It’s the words, the comments. They hurt. And sadly, you have to accept their words, if they’re constructive, and look at what you wrote and know that the person (hopefully) is telling you this to make you a better writer.
Being a writer is a practice, like being a doctor or a lawyer. We practice at it all the time, getting better (hopefully).
So, accept the criticism you get, put a good spin on it in any way you can, and use it to make yourself a better writer. If it’s just pure meanness with nothing constructive in it at all, then know that that person has nothing positive to add to the world and dismiss them (or feel sorry for them, up to you).
8. Self-belief Going along with that thick-skin you’re developing, you need to believe in yourself. You are a writer, dammit. You know what you are doing! Or you don’t, but you’re going to learn and get better. Who cares what other people think? You know that you’ve got a story to tell or an idea you need to get across and you are going to do your best and work really hard to make yourself heard. You go for it! You know that you’ve got this.
9. Imposter syndrome or Self Doubt We’ve all got it. That niggling little voice in the back of your head that says “You can’t do this!” “Who do you think you’re fooling? “Yeah, don’t even try because you just aren’t talented enough.”
Did you ever hear that voice? I do… All. The. Time. It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been writing. It doesn’t matter how many books you’ve published. It doesn’t even matter if your last book was a best seller. Your nasty little brain is still there telling you that you can’t do this, or the last time was a fluke, or whatever other poison that little voice is spilling into your head. Don’t listen to it. Honestly! Stick a strip of duct tape over its mouth in your imagination and get on with your work.
10. Open to your creativity To be a writer of fiction, you need to open yourself to those voices we talked about earlier. You need to let them flood into your mind and out your fingertips. To write in a deeper point-of-view, you also need to not only allow the voices to speak, you need to get inside the head of the one who’s speaking. Who are they? How do they think? How do they see the world? What do they want, but aren’t telling anybody?
You need to become that character (in your own mind) so that they can talk and move and act on your page. Open yourself up to them and they’ll come. Accept them with open arms and an open mind and they will talk to you and give you beautiful words and amazing stories to put down on your page.
Is it easy being a writer? Hell, no! Is it a lot of work and involve a good deal of hair-pulling? Yup. It also involves lots of long walks, closet cleaning and whatever else is your choice of mindless activity—because all that activity your brain is still working on your story and when you sit back down at your computer those voices are going to speak to you and you’re going to write down their stories.
So, tell me, are you a writer?