Things Writers Know


Most important thing writers know: Writers gotta write.

  1. Writers know submission guidelines matter, even if the guidelines make absolutely no fucking sense. They want you to send your story in Comic Sans? You send it to them in Comic Sans.
  2. Writers know they can’t edit their own work.
  3. Writers know everyone is a potential character. When they speak with people, they’re often paying extra attention to dialog and expressions.
  4. If there are strange dynamics going on between friends or colleagues, a writer will pick up on that. And think about how to put it in her book.
  5. If someone says something extremely witty or profound, a writer might steal it. When I do it, I usually tell people about that. It makes them happy.
  6. Writers know Scrivener is the best program for novel writing. Non-writers typically haven’t heard of Scrivener, unless they know writers.
  7. Writers know that editing is a sober process.
  8. They also know, in spite of the stereotypes, most writers aren’t addicts.
  9. Some are, though.
  10. Writers know “Being a Writer” consists of much more work than just writing. Writing is part of the battle. The other 85% of the battle is not as much fun, it takes up an incredible amount of time, and almost none of our non-writer friends can empathize or understand this.
  11. Writers know getting rejections hurts, but it’s kind of like relationships. The first one makes you feel like killing yourself. The tenth one makes you feel like killing the editor. Throughout the course of writing (and, hopefully, relationships), writers develop confidence. We get acceptances, and the rejections become easier to take. It gets easier to put blame on someone else, or accept the blame ourself.
  12. We fail a lot, and we are often to blame. I haven’t done the count, but my estimate is that I publish about 20% of what I write. I don’t know if that’s high or low, compared to other writers, because…
  13. Writers like to talk about success.
  14. Writers read in a writerly way. I edit and learn as I go: “Wow, that was a really good way to describe her nose. This sentence is way too long. Holy crap, they should’ve foreshadowed this better…Holy crap, they foreshadowed this well and I still didn’t see it coming!” I’m analyzing word choices, sentence structure…After I published my first novel, I sat down, read a book, and realized I was reading differently. I mentioned this to a writer. She said, “Yeah. That never goes away.”
  15. Writers know it’s sometimes really fun to talk about writing, but can also be kind of annoying. Usually, if we want to talk about what we’re working on, we’d prefer to initiate the conversation. Similarly, if we want you to read our works in progress, we’ll ask you to.
  16. Writers know it means a lot when their friends read their stuff. It kinda hurts when good friends don’t bother.
  17. Writers know this statement is false: “I would love to write, I just don’t have any free time.”
    There is no, “I would love to write.” You either love to write, or you don’t, but don’t bitch about your lack of free time. You love to write? You make time.

What am I missing? What else do writers know?


photo credit: Austin Kleon


Filed under Book-speak, Musings and Reflections

10 responses to “Things Writers Know

  1. My new favorite things to remind myself (in life and in writing): Anything is possible and there is more than enough to go around. Enough success. Enough words. Enough time. When I live in the possibility, it allows me to be genuinely happy for other people’s success, to accept my own setbacks, and to love the infinite nature of all the stories there are to tell! Thanks for this post. (Now back to The Writing lol!)

    • Very well said, Megan:)

      Sadey, I’d add these:

      – Writers know that everything has already been done … but it’s never been done by YOU.

      – Writers know that editing is never “all done” but you can’t make perfect the enemy of the good. At some point we have to just let our books go.

  2. My favorite thing to remind myself of is that I write every day — every day — even if it’s not “the kind” of writing I “think” I should be doing and has no bearing on any “project” I’m working on at all. I’ll write anyway. I just do it. Always have. It’s like breathing. It’s still writing. Like this comment is. Heh.

  3. Sheri Savill

    My favorite thing to remind myself of is that all writing is writing, and even if I don’t write on a specific “project” every day, I do write a lot every day, in some form or other. Always have, always will. It’s like breathing, for me. Have to. And even a comment on a blog is writing. What the hell, right?

  4. I thought of another one I’ll add soon, too. Writers *read*. A LOT.

  5. Wonderful list. #14 is so true, but when I find a book where I’m not doing that and I’m just caught up on the story, I know I’ve found a great book and should probably go back and read it again in that writerly way. LOL.

  6. Writers know that only writers understand writers.

    Writers know that you can’t rest on their successes, you have to write the next book. And the next. And the next…

  7. Love that post. Identify with a lot of it.
    Especially No 17. If you have to write, you HAVE to write. You dream about it, scribble ideas when you are half awake. It’s a compulsion.
    If people who say that wanted to write they would write!

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