Do Writers Have Quirks?
It has been said many times before: writing is a tough job. Kind of like raising children-exhausting yet rewarding. Writers are human and they come in all shapes and sizes, along with unique talents and quirks. Are writers as isolating and brooding as they are often depicted? Are they mysterious figures turning a family member’s life into their next soap opera script? Maybe so. Their personas are typically as ambiguous as the plot to their next best selling masterpiece. But all novelists have one thing in common – they have unique quirks, or an individual approach to the ‘writing process’. I have compiled a generalized list of common traits that many writing professionals possess.
Full disclosure: I am a writer and I include myself in some (or maybe all) of the following points of interest:
- Writers are opinionated. About everything. Opinions are shared (whether you like it or not) about the weather, your pets, your children, your style, and how to write a novel. This makes sense, however, when you consider that writers love to read. About everything. Writers are informed beings, in possession of an encyclopedic range of thoughts and ideas on every imaginable topic. Because of this, writers love folks who have great listening skills!
- Writers believe that their method of writing is the best method. Don’t argue this point. Some authors will tell you that the correct approach in creating a best-seller is to ‘let it flow’. Like wine from grapes or blood from a wound. In other words, write like mad. Upon completion of your frenzied flow of words, put that jewel inside a drawer and allow it to ferment. Pull it out later and begin to edit. Others will insist that a more efficient method to writing is to behave like a Type A writer and line edit each page as you move forward. Hmm . . . My advice is to do whatever works best for you. Take all advice with a grain of salt (and maybe a glass of fermented grapes). If you can push out six or seven chapters in a day (or a week), you don’t need advice.
- Writers are capable of turning a cover letter or a resume into a novella. But this is not always a wonderful idea. There are times to let those words pour forth like liquid gold (or fermented grapes) and there are times when you need to turn the tap OFF. Cover letters are business letters, and not meant to be novellas. In a case like this, keep your message brief and to the point.
- Writers can create anytime, anywhere. My own urge (to write) often comes in the middle of the night. But if that creative bolt of lightning strikes while you are making a trip to the loo or spending time with your significant other, you may want to cool down your writing spark plugs. Because if you are a true writer, the urge will strike again. And again.
- Writers form strong bonds with their characters. Really strong bonds. A writer’s primary function is to move a plot along with complex, believable characters. Writers believe characters are real people (most of the time). This can get confusing if you find yourself having audible conversations with your characters in public places. Authors will insist that spoken dialogue is a means of making sure that the dialogue sounds ‘natural’. That is a valid concern. However, take it from me, save your character interactions and conversations until you are in the privacy of your own home.
- Writers can be inflexible. What? In an effort to set the tone of this blog point, I must clarify: writers can be inflexible with their writing space and writing tools. I tell guests in my home to disregard the notice on my office door that reads (in bold letters): “Please stay out of my office. If you do dare to venture inside, please do NOT touch my sparkly gel pens or remove them from my blue mug. Never use my printer paper for your notes or art projects”.
- Writers are creatures of habit. Some write at dawn. Or in the middle of the night. On trains, planes and automobiles. Some writers must have silence. Other writers prefer to sit anonymously in coffee shops, pretending to innocuously drink their frothy concoctions while they scribble down every single detail about the people around them. There are other habits that writers employ while writing, but I will not mention them here.
- Writers think they are mathematicians because they use pie charts and flow charts. Just because you put sticky notes up on your mirror and have diagrams outlining your plot and story arc, you are not really a detective, nor a mathematician. You’re a writer. And maybe a researcher and marketer.
- Writers are actually quite social. People conjure up images of solitary wordsmiths enclosed in drafty rooms, brooding over their storylines. That is so last century. Today’s authors frequently hook up on social media where they delight in sharing recipes and tips of all sorts. In fact, many authors today are leading the way in social media integration. Let’s not forget that conferences are a social magnet. Just don’t tell too many people about this. Writers like people thinking they are reclusive.
- Don’t ask a writer what the title of their next novel will be. That’s akin to asking a pregnant woman what she is going to name her unborn offspring. Not a good idea. Trust me, the writer will shout that title from the rooftops when the time is right.
That sums up just a few quirks that writers may or may not have. Quirks that I may or may not have. This list may cause you to scratch your head and insist (to yourself) that you do not have any writing quirks. Or, you may bob your head up and down in a vigorous manner. That’s okay. In the end, it’s not a problem to have some quirks. Remember, famous authors have quirks as well. Horror author Stephen King ingests a vitamin pill and listens to music before beginning his daily work while Margaret Atwood begins her novels in longhand. And J.K. Rowling famously walked her infant daughter through the streets of Edinburgh before settling down in a cafe to work on her first great book. Writing a good story is the goal you’re after. On this note, I wish you success on your writing journey, whether it’s accompanied by wine or water and whether it happens in the morning, afternoon or evening!