Thursday, February 9, 2012

Writers' Virtues

A quick shout out to Rosanne Dingli, who brought up the topic of writers' virtues in a recent blog.  (Her blog is interesting; go there.)  This started a conversation with someone about specifically which five virtues were mandatory for every successful writer.  We disagreed about what those five were, so I thought I'd include mine, with a brief explanation.

My five writers' virtues--all of which I need more of:

1. Diligence and Perseverance, because not every moment will be an inspired one. And you have to write, anyway. And then keep at it. If I waited to be truly inspired, I'd write only 10-12 times a year. And you have to be diligent enough to move on to the next piece--fast.

2. Versatility, because your story won't always come out in a gush. Writers need to work at a scene near the beginning, then the middle, then 1/4 through...and writers should write different things. I've had a spec. fiction story, a small nonfiction piece, and a mystery short story accepted or published in the last few weeks. Plus, you have to be versatile enough to write the story the way it wants to be written. And versatility means balancing writing/career/relationships...

3. Empathy, because if you don't have the humanity to care about your characters--even the minor ones, or the bad ones--then the agent, editor and reader won't, either. Reading YEAR OF WONDERS right now; the empathy and humanity Brooks feels for her characters is a force stronger than the plague she details.

4. Bravery, because the rejections will pile up, but you have to send it out again, anyway. My latest rejection said, "Though I liked the concept, the ending seemed pretty arbitrary." OUCH. And you have to be brave enough to tell the story the way it wants to be told, too. Not for the faint.

5. Contentedness, at least while writing. (Though a great many great writers were malcontents.) If writing itself doesn't content you, you won't write for long.


  1. I think those are all good virtues! Especially perseverence and bravery!

    1. Thanks, Alexia. Good to hear from you again! All of the above are necessary in an abundance that few have, including me, at least on most days. But I'm gettin' there.