Are you a writer with big dreams to publish your novel one day or sign a multi-book publishing contract? Do you dream of one day seeing your very own book on the shelves of your local bookstore? Or fantasize about seeing your author name alongside the likes of Liane Moriarty, Tim Winton, or Monica McInerney?
Whether your goals are loud and proud, or more bite-size, there are certain qualities you will need as a writer. Things that go beyond a laptop and pretty notebooks – both of which I would argue are essential!
The other essentials are qualities you will find in all successful authors have developed and evolved over time. and it’s these qualities that set apart the ‘wanna-be’ writers from the serious ones.
So you think you have the attributes to be a writer? Let’s find out.
All writers have a curiosity. The curiosity to ask… what if? The curiosity to explore and seek out ideas, to ask questions, and to find answers. I strongly believe curiosity and creativity are intrinsically linked – you can’t have one without the other. It’s a writer’s curiosity that sparks their creativity to put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and write. And it’s that undying curiosity that keeps the creative fires burning.
Closely aligned with curiosity is observation. If you are someone who loves sitting on the train or in a coffee shop and eavesdropping, chances are you’d be a good writer! Observation is a key element to being a good writer. Writers need to observe and listen to what’s going on in their world. Body language, tone of voice, word choice, gestures, conversation are all things a writer will take notice of and insert into their characters and their writing either consciously or subconsciously. It’s this attention to detail that will ultimately make your writing shine whether you are writing contemporary, historical, crime, and even fantasy or sci-fi.
Books don’t write themselves (as much as every writer wishes they did!). The hard truth is that unless you are dedicated to sitting your butt in the chair and getting words down, your book won’t get written. And even if you do manage to get a first draft done, there’s still the redrafting and various editing passes to go wade through before you have a completed, polished novel. All writers need to be dedicated to the work. They need to be committed, and armed with an arsenal of weapons to destroy procrastination and ward-off self-doubt, criticism, setbacks, and rejection. Because they are all things that every writer will face over and over again, and it’s only dedication to the writing that will see you through.
The dictionary definition of grit is:
/noun/; courage and resolve; strength of character.
And it defines exactly the essence of a writer. Writers need to possess the courage and resolve to keep writing despite everything else. Despite the eleventy billion rejections you will get along the way. Despite the flippant and often well-meaning (but far off the mark) comments from family and friends. Despite the scathing one-star reviews you will receive once you are published. Writers are sensitive souls – we have to be to create realistic characters that readers will relate to – but this also means that we feel things deeply. One negative comment can be like a bullet to the heart. It can shake our resolve and make us question everything we’ve ever written. The writers who are able to navigate these shaky moments are the one’s who possess grit. Who can leather their skin and persevere through the darkest times in order to reach that light at the end of the tunnel. If you don’t have grit, you won’t find the success you seek. So dig down, find that grit and keep going.
A love for storytelling
When it comes down to it, all writers, no matter in which form they write, have to have a love for storytelling. Books, film, music are all forms of storytelling, the art of which has been around since the dawn of time. It’s this love of telling a story, seeing it come to life on the page or screen that writers have a passion for. Writers have an innate love for plot, characters, and most importantly the emotions that a story elicits. It’s this love of story that is the backbone of all writers. Because after all, it’s all about the story.