Characteristics of a Writer

Last week, Vicki made a comment on the Write Your Own Poetry post. She said, “I think we all get that, as writers, sadness is an emotion that can produce beauty of its own.”

That idea tickled my muse. It made me think about what else writers may have in common. There will always be exceptions, of course. But generally speaking, do a majority of writers share certain traits? I’m curious to find out . . . which is why I need your help! Let’s make this a group effort, shall we? I’ll talk about some of my characteristics, and then you let me know which ones I’ve missed, or which ones I’m totally wrong about. Maybe I’ll get really ambitious and create a poll where people can vote on the master list. For now, here are eleven of my writerly traits. . . .

  1. I find beauty everywhere. As Vicki pointed out, even sadness can produce beauty. I look for beauty wherever I go. Searching for beauty is perhaps my favorite part of being a writer.
  2. I am a perfectionist. I’m obsessive about grammar and other little details. I’m a Type A personality who organizes for giggles. Other writers may strive for perfection in different ways, but the urge is still there, deeply rooted.
  3. I am an introvert. I’d much rather be alone in my office all day than go out in public. Socializing is difficult for me, and public speaking is downright knee-shaking. I require a period of solitude every day, and I could probably thrive as a hermit.
  4. I hear voices in my head. Not in a crazy way—okay, that depends on your definition of crazy—but in a way to develop characters and point-of-view. I try to see the world through the eyes of my characters.
  5. I seek story ideas constantly. Every person, every trip, every day is a potential story idea. I stash all experiences in my hoard, like a squirrel collecting nuts. I may never use them all, but I have them if I need them.
  6. I cherish words. Whether it’s an old love letter, a shelf of favorite books, or an email from a kindred spirit, words rank high in my most prized possessions. I always crave perfect words, whether I read them or write them.
  7. I respect all forms of art. I am not a talented artist, photographer, musician, or dancer . . . but I love art, photography, music, and dancing. I’ve tried them all in subpar attempts. But writing is also a creative art, so I’ll focus my efforts on writing.
  8. I am conflicted. I want everything and nothing. I want an agent—never mind, I’ll self-publish—nope, changed my mind again. It’s not unusual for me to be happy and sad at the same time. I can kick off my shoes and walk a mile in yours. I view a situation from all angles. Gray is the new black.
  9. I escape via books. My idea of a vacation is reading a whole book uninterrupted. It could be in a hammock in my backyard and I’d be thrilled with the trip. Excursions to the bookstore are like holidays, and meeting authors makes me squee like a fan girl. I will stay up all night to finish a good book. I listen to audiobooks to spice up my life while I brush my teeth and do other mundane chores.
  10. I feel like a misfit. I’m not referring to teenager angst, though I’m a big fan of that as well. I’m referring to the ability to feel alone in a crowd, even when I’m twenty-something and fairly comfortable with who I am as a person. This feeling usually disappears when I’m surrounded by family, friends, and fellow writers. If I’m not, my mind feels like a tomato in the pickle jar. Maybe it’s my paranoid tendency to overanalyze, or maybe I really am a weird geek. Whatever the reason, imagine shoving a square peg into a triangle—that’s how I feel at a party.
  11. I love the mysterious. No, not murder mysteries. I mean the deep questions in our souls: “Why am I here? What’s the meaning of life? What happens after death? Why does gum lose its flavor so quickly?” When I write, I’m hunting those answers and more. As Einstein said, “The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious.” See #1 for how I feel about beauty.

I welcome discussion in the comments! What characteristics do you see in writers? Later, if there’s enough interest, I’ll create a poll for voting purposes. Thanks for your input!

P.S. Don’t forget to read WALK TWO MOONS for the next book club meeting!


10 thoughts on “Characteristics of a Writer

  1. This post made me smile.
    I knew writers had a lot in common, but this sounds like you got insode my head and just wrote what was there. Every single word is true. This is now one of my favorite posts.
    -Quail, the Dustlet (tmkett.wordpress…)

    • Thanks for the comment, Quail! You just made my day. And I swear I haven’t been inside your head . . . not that I remember anyway. 😀

      So what do you like to write??

  2. I’ll do anything. Poetry, Books, and I’m working on what may or may not turn out as a novel. I have no idea what it will end up as when I start, but I have that one planned out. Just don’t ask me to spell.
    I love this site.

    • No pressure to spell! 😀 Good luck with your poetry and potential novel—how exciting! I am horrendous at poetry, but I love writing novels. What genre is your novel?

      Thanks again for your comments, and hope to see you around the blog again!

  3. E.M.,
    This is such an interesting list! Very thoughtful (another characteristic of writers, I believe)! Along with mysteries, I also love paradoxes, how something can be true and so can its opposite. (Of course, I can’t think of a good example right now!)

    What you say about introverts is also interesting. I’m not at all shy, am very outgoing and don’t have trouble meeting new people. HOWEVER, what you said about needing some solitude every day…yes! Absolutely. And not just a little. A lot.

    Thanks for getting me thinking…another activity that writers enjoy.


    • Hey Kellye! Thanks for your input! Love what you said about paradoxes—so true!

      Do you have a hard time getting enough solitude? I suppose it’s easier when your son’s in school? Does your family understand your need to be alone at times?

      Thank you for your thoughtful comment! Hope you’re doing great!


  4. Great post! Some of these are truths for me, and some of them aren’t. I suppose that’s how we create such different stories. Here is my list:
    1. I find beauty everywhere. TRUE. Whether in a dewdrop on a spider’s web or the giggling of my baby or the taste of chicken a coq, I love to not only recognize the beauty, but remember it.
    2. I am a perfectionists. FALSE. There is a certain part of me that strives for excellence, but if I do my best then I’m not disappointed if it’s not perfect. I’m definitely not a perfectionist by any stretch of the imagination.
    3. I am an introvert. FALSE. People give me energy, and I’m at home in a crowd of strangers.
    4. I hear voices in my head. TRUE! While I cook supper I sometimes have conversations between my characters. And when I go running I’ll sometimes think of a scene and then play it over and over in my head until I can get home and write it down. 🙂
    5. I seek story ideas constantly. TRUE! I love this observance. It’s so true. I’ve even written down a dream that I had and it later became a scene in Demas’ First Task!
    6. I cherish words. TRUE. I defy any writer to go through the challenges and heartache of trying to put together an awesome sentence/paragraph/story-and walk away without cherishing the massive importance and power of words.
    7. I respect all forms of art. TRUE.
    8. I am conflicted. TRUE. I like what you said “gray is the new black”. I can admire an author’s talent without respecting her work. I can hate a character and also love her. I can firmly hold onto my belief while respecting those who believe opposite.
    9. I escape via books. TRUE!
    10. I feel like a misfit. TRUE. You put it so well.
    11. I love the mysterious. TRUE. And no matter how many mysterious or weird things I read about in fiction, nothing is as strange as reality. There are almost always just as many bizarre things in the non-fiction that I read as in the fiction!

    • Ellie!! I LOVED reading your thoughts on the eleven characteristics! Really, matching on 9 out of 11 is a good percentage! And I can see how not all writers will be perfectionists or introverts. So interesting to compare! A few of my thoughts in response to yours . . .

      1. REMEMBERING the beauty is a crucial point. I almost listed another characteristic when I was writing this post: remembering in more vivid details. But since it’s hard to compare memories, I ended up scratching that trait. But it’s possible that we remember the world in 3-D beauty.

      4. I totally agree with getting story ideas at the strangest times—like when I’m in the shower! Then I read an article about how the sound of water stimulates the brain somehow, so then that phenomenon made more sense, LOL. But another factor is that, as moms, any “quiet” time we manage to get leads to ideas! 😀

      5. WOOT for the dream turned story idea!! SO cool!!

      6. Amen.

      8. Ditto!

      11. HA! My dad always says, “Fact is stranger than fiction.”

      Thanks so much for your comment!!

  5. 1. Not really me. Though I do find beauty in some of the strangest things.
    2. I’m a perfectionist just with certain things – but for the most part, no.
    3. Definitely.
    4. Yes, in both the crazy way and the good way. =)
    5. I don’t seek them, but I find them in almost anything.
    6. Yes.
    7. Yes. I also love to draw. And would like to take a watercolor class someday. Can’t dance or sing worth anything.
    8. Yes.
    9. Definitely yes!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    10. Yes.
    11. Yes.

    • Hey, thanks for weighing in with your thoughts! Love hearing everyone’s opinions!

      Ooh, now I want to see your drawings. 😀

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