Five Things Every Writer Should Have

Hello wonderful SEers! Mae here today with a Friday Five. I hope you enjoy my list of  five things every writer should have in their arsenal. These may be abstract, but I think you’ll recognize their importance:

1. Supportive Loved Ones
a group of kittens in a basketNon-writers don’t often understand what authors go through. We seal ourselves away, hunched over a keyboard, and block the outer world. Sooner or later, no matter how diligent our attempts to balance family life and writing, our craft can infringe on time spent with loved ones.

When we’re writing into the wee hours of the morning, or putting off dinner “just one more hour,” it’s great to have family and friends who understand that the life of a writer spins on a different axis.

sea turtle swimming with shell above the water2. A Tough Exterior
There’s a lot of the obvious in this one. Writers are subject to having  work rejected and garnering bad reviews. Sooner or later, no matter how talented you are, you’re going to have to cross that bridge. The best book in the world will not appeal to everyone.

The first public review I received was three stars. Not awful, but I had dreamy-eyed visions of five stars. I still remember the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. What if they were all like that? Of course they weren’t. There were many five stars that followed, but I’ve netted one and two star reviews as well. And why shouldn’t I, when my favorite authors fare the same? The first “bad” review stung. Now I know it’s part of the life I have chosen. Buck up and adopt a tough exterior!

Image of a rabbit with a bird's beak and feathers around the head3. The Ability to Step out of Your Comfort Zone
I’m an introvert. Most writers are. That doesn’t fit with being the center of attention and promoting our work, but the field we’ve chosen requires stepping out of comfort zones. For me, that has involved doing book signings, presentations, and speeches. Ugh!

The good news is the more often we force ourselves into the spotlight, whether online or in person, the easier those moments become. I will never be comfortable as an extrovert—a role I adapt for presentations and speeches—but knowing I’ve donned that cloak before makes the fit easier to face the next time.

baby penguin snuggled up to adult penguin, both standing upright4. A Willingness to Grow
As a writer, I feel I’m always learning—and I’m open to learning. We sometimes chafe at constructive criticism. Granted, not all criticism is warranted, but as writers we can learn and grow through the experience and knowledge of others. Whether that comes from editors, critique partners, or peers, we should keep an open mind.

Back to that first book I wrote—after publication another author emailed me pointing out a few things I could have done better. My first reaction was to go on the defensive, but then I thought about what she said, and she was right. Her suggestions were minor, having to do with style, but she was trying to offer her wisdom to a newbie. Acknowledged, accepted, and cataloged for the future!

cat with closed eyes snuggles with paper red heart5. A Passion for the Craft
You probably think this is obvious, but that’s not necessarily true. Over the years I’ve met numerous people who love writing and dream of publication, but have no passion to see it through. Long hours, rejections, bad reviews, endless promo, stepping out of comfort zones—you need passion to put up with the negative side of an author’s life.

We get plenty of rewards too—personal satisfaction, seeing our work “out there,” good reviews, sales, name recognition. If only every day could be like that. To stay the course, it’s a passion for writing that will see you through.

Do you have these items in your arsenal? Do you rely on them and/or others? If you could add one “abstract” to this list what would it be?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Ready, set, go!


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57 thoughts on “Five Things Every Writer Should Have

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  3. Well said, Mae. As for the introvert/extrovert thing, I find it all depends on the situation and circumstances. For me, if I’m comfortable with my subject matter, I’m fine and in fact, truly enjoy having an audience. But if I’m in a situation where I feel awkward in any way, I can’t disappear into the wallpaper fast enough. My answer? Fill my life with plenty of the first kind, and avoid the second kind like the plague.

    I do admit to having a bit of agoraphobia (which is why I chose to write about it in Finding Hunter), and if I don’t stay on top of it, I will avoid leaving the house for days on end, sometimes as long as two weeks or more. Great for writing, and I tell myself that’s why I’m doing it. But I only started writing 5 years ago, and have done this kind of thing all my life. These days, once I make myself GO, I enjoy it all just fine. Does that make me an introverted extrovert? Or just the opposite? 😀 I have no clue, but I agree with your five choices, for sure. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Marcia, I like your answer about the introvert/extrovert experience and being comfortable with the subject matter. That helps a great deal in being able to speak. Even then, I find I’m a bit jittery with nerves, but once I start speaking they usually go away. If I wasn’t comfortable with the subject then I’d REALLY be a ball of jelly, LOL.

      I guess you have to force yourself on occasion to overcome the agoraphobia, which is what I have to do when I need to speak before an audience. I don’t mind going out at all–in fact, I feel closed up if I’m in too long–but I’m also a homebody. I’m not big on parties unless their small get togethers. When I do force myself to go to a larger social event, I usually always have a good time. Of course, then I’m drained for the next two days!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Don’t you find that the audience response to your presentation helps, too? For me, if they are nodding along, asking pertinent questions, and most of all, laughing at all the right places, I feel better and better. I’d start getting really uncomfortable if it looked like they weren’t enjoying things. My feeling is, these sorts of events should be fun for the audience. They should learn a new things, but have a good time while doing so. It’s not like they have to be there to pass a course, or anything. They want to enjoy themselves and leave with a few new facts or ideas tucked away. (I always figure if the group isn’t laughing enough, I’m not doing my job right.)

        When I wake up each morning, the first thing I ask myself is, do I have to go anywhere today? I’m always very happy when the answer is no. 😀

        Liked by 1 person

      • Absolutely, about the audience. It makes all the difference when they enjoy the presentation. My next one is scheduled for November 4th. I’m the guest speaker at a Victorian tea given by a local historical society. I’ve never done a tea before (I’ve know you’ve done many) and am really looking forward to it!

        Liked by 1 person

    • The first one is the toughest of all because it relies on others, where the next four come from us.I completely understand how you may only end up with 4 out of 5. Hopefully, over time, the first one will become more common place. The longer someone lives with a writer or befriends them, (fingers crossed) the more understanding they should be of our unique hurdles. Happy writing, Charles!


      • Unfortunately, there’s also the opposite of that scenario. I’ve been finding that the longer some people interact with an author, the less understanding they become. Hate to be a downer on this one though. The plus side is that you can find support in various author communities. It takes some of the sting out of the daily naysayers.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is indeed a bad one, Charles. I haven’t experienced that, but it sounds like you have. I’m glad you can find support in author communities. Every writer needs a supportive network!


      • To be honest, it’s the reason why I’m doing this semi-retirement and working on becoming a TA. Too many people on this side of the computer have given up on me. Ultimatums were thrown around too. Part of me hopes that this acts as a cautionary tale for other authors. Try to have some kind of a consistent income while going for the books.

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’m so sorry to hear that, Charles, especially the ultimatum parts. From my own experience, I definitely have to rely on a steady income (day job) to pay the bills while I write on the side. I hope to use my writing income to supplement my retirement when the day gets here. Hoping all works out for yo with becoming a TA.


      • One thing that really didn’t help is that the sales just dried up this year. I don’t know what happened. A lot of authors have been saying that they aren’t seeing much activity, so I’m wondering what the condition of the overall market is.

        With the TA thing, I did all of the requirements, but it might take 4-8 weeks to get the certification. That’s driving me nuts.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I had the same thing happen with my sales this year. I thought it was because I went a year between releases when I’m usually 6-8 months. It could be the market overall.

        Waiting would drive me nuts, too. Hopefully the cert comes on the short end of that time frame and not the long one!


      • I was keeping up the one release every 3-4 months. The new books didn’t cause that much of a rise in sales, so I’m thinking it’s the overall market. Maybe people aren’t reading as much. There are some authors doing great though. Not sure what their secret is.

        Fingers crossed for the shorter end of the time frame.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Agree with you 100%, Mae. I need to be more of an extrovert when it comes to promoting my work. Like you, it doesn’t come easy for me. I’m fortunate in that my husband supports me and understands (for the most part, lol) when I’m “in the zone.”

    Great post today!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Glad you enjoyed it, Joan! I always say I have an “on” switch when I need to be an extrovert. Problem is, it drains me completely when the switch flips back to off. I need a full day or more to recover.
      So glad to here you have a supportive hubby.That makes all the difference!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. When the children were young and I looked after my friend’s two after school and my husband was doing shift work … getting dinner cooked for seven, on time, fitting in with after school activities. Yes dinner was one of the main focuses of the day once upon a time; since I’ve been writing it gets put on the back burner. Luckily Cyberspouse also likes cooking, but still needs the patience of a saint as I never get to the table on time when he’s serving up – I’m always in the middle of writing a comment on someone’s blog or in the middle of my own blog!
    Having the passion is easy, but not stepping out of the comfort zone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it interesting how you can look back over your life and see how it’s changed from a point when writing became a major focus? 🙂
      It’s great you have a spouse who likes to cook. Mine will do that too, but it is rough shutting down the WIP when dinner calls. As for stepping out of comfort zones, that is the toughest of all. At least for me. I have to force myself each and every time. I’ve read about a number of singers and Broadway actors who get stage fright before performing live, despite having done it thousands of times. Some even get physically sick, but then they throw the “on” switch. It’s nice to know we’re not alone with that fear! On the downside, I wonder if it completely ever goes away.

      Liked by 1 person

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