Some say that writers are a different breed 😉 We often appear to be doing nothing when in fact we are busy in another world, plotting a whole new story. What to someone else is simply “staring into space” is a whole new book in the making for a writer. The crazy research that you see in your online browsing history was probably done by your writer friend – spouse – flatmate … Writers work hard, that’s probably how we end up with that list of writing strengths 🙂
The Ability to Sit Still and Type for Hours on End
Not many people can do that. It is recommended that you take a break every 30 minutes or so, stretch, or go for a short stroll. Nonetheless, when you are submerged in your story that break is not going to happen. In fact, that break may have to wait another two or three hours, or even more.
There were days that I got so caught up in my writing that despite the hunger pangs I clearly felt I kept on writing, because I was so inspired. I had to let it all out. That battle scene had to be written; the character’s personal struggles had to be explained; never mind my grumbling stomach. When inspiration flows, it flows, and you easily end up writing 3000 to 7000, or even 10,000 words in a day. It’s different for everyone, of course, but in my case, this has often happened.
After a while, I stop noticing that I have been sitting there for hours. I am no longer at my desk, because I have transported myself into the book I am creating and I am there with my main character. That chair I am sitting in is now far away …
After all the writing is done, then I need to stretch (and eat!), and it is a long stretch, believe me 😉
Do Lots of Research, Have Loads of Homework Every Day
When you’re writing about a certain time period, or you want to include specific weapons, foods, clothing, and other items in your story, you need to do research.
A writer’s internet browsing history can sometimes look very suspicious, causing your partner or friend to consider calling the police 😉
Types of poison, quick ways to kill someone, most painful ways to die, how long does it take to drown, torture methods, and other dubious looking Google searches may all be part of a writer’s research. If you happen to see such a browsing history of your writing spouse or friend, there is no need to panic and assume that you are married to a serial killer. You are with a writer who is just doing some research for his/her story. What a relief, isn’t it? 😉
I think that a thesaurus is one of a writer’s closest friends. Convey the action in the verb. Instead of saying “the mouse ran away”, use “the mouse scurried away” or instead of typing the word “big” you could write huge, enormous, gigantic, Godzilla-sized (I made that up 😉 ), and so on.
For many writers this comes naturally, but obviously we do need that thesaurus, especially when our work is ready and it needs to go through the editing stage.
Love of Reading
So far I have not come across a writer who doesn’t love to read. The advice to read a lot if you want to be a good writer is often given, and it makes sense.
Reading is always educational, not only concerning vocabulary, but also culture, history, ethics, etc. I learned a lot by reading books, for example: what not to do when I write. You pick that up especially when you read books that you do not like or enjoy so much … Besides gathering excellent tips you can also take note not to repeat certain mistakes.
Other books are throves of information, introducing you to historical characters you may not even have heard of, since they are not always mentioned in school curricula. Books like that have urged me to research more historical people that are lesser known but still made huge impacts on history or had fascinating life stories.
Some fiction books can teach you about science in a much more engaging way than school, if the author did his/her research 😉 I’m not a science buff, but I always found it much more interesting to read about science in fictional settings.
Gary Jennings’ books are a great example of historical fiction that just draws you in. His stories took place during and after the Spanish Invasion of the Aztec Empire, and the independence movement against New Spain.
I read them all! He clearly knew a lot about Mexican history and its independence heroes, about the Mexicas (which was the original name of the Aztecs) and their culture, food, rituals, sacrifices, beliefs, and so on. Gary Jennings’ books are fantastic; real pageturners with strong characters, intriguing plots, and sometimes heartstopping moments while at the same time you learn a lot about Mexico and its bloody and fascinating history.
A Strong Desire to Learn
Many writers are always open to learning new things. They read, research, watch documentaries, and gain an understanding about topics that they may use for a work in progress or for an upcoming book.
For example, if you’re going to write a story about pirates, you will acquire knowledge of their history, their codes, insurance (yes, pirates had an insurance system, did you know that? 😉 ) Pirates have a fascinating history, I already researched it 🙂
When you are writing a book, your interest in learning something new will always be there, and even when you’re not writing, there will always be something that will intrigue you.
So often, I come across interesting news items that I end up perusing. All of it is information that can be used in a story.
Use Real Life Experiences as Inspiration for Fictional Stories
Always! It doesn’t matter what genre you write in. It could be romance, historical fiction, fantasy, horror, science fiction, erotica, paranormal, or any other genre; some real life experiences will appear in there. Character’s names and settings may change, but much advice or described events in books are not made up but come from real life experiences.
You know that saying? “Don’t annoy the writer. He/She may put you in a book and kill you horribly.” There is a lot of truth in that 😉 Well, perhaps not the killing part; not always, haha.
It is tough to get noticed as a writer. You may be incredibly talented and have astounding, phenomenal stories, but if you have bad marketing or no marketing experience, then no one is going to know about your books. Thousands of books are published every single day, and many just get completely lost in this barrage of daily publications …
Do writers give up, though? No, we keep on writing and publishing. Those stories we have in us just have to come out, and so we persevere, and write, and write, and write, for years and years, our whole life.
I think that I have easily written several million words in my lifetime. Many are unpublished. My publishing journey started late in my life; so far, ten books are published and more are on the way. Seraphin is in the editing process and I have finally found an idea for his book cover. After Seraphin is published, I will start editing the next three manuscripts that have been waiting for a few years now.
I have been writing stories since I was 6 years old, and I cannot stop. It is something that is a part of me, and if I cannot write I feel that a part of me is lost, as if I’m incomplete. Writing is a huge part of who I am.
If you are a writer, can you relate to this or do you have any other strengths that you think should be on this list? My list here is, of course, not complete, but these 7 strengths are very true for writers.
Do you perhaps live with a writer and have you already learned to leave him/her alone when he or she is typing and has moved to that other world he/she created? Perhaps you already know that staring into space is not merely “staring into space”? 😉
Let me know your thoughts in the comments. I’m looking forward to reading them.
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