humor / writers / writing

7 Things Writers Can Do No One Else Can (or Wants to)

I’m reposting this from a few years ago. Back then, I didn’t have many readers so now, I wanted to share these pithy thoughts–including a few updates–with all my new efriends!

There are a lot of difficult parts to writing. I mean, besides the whole write-edit-revise-rewrite-market-start over thing. That cutting a vein and bleeding on the page can get touch-and-go at times. Channeling your muse often gets someone you’d prefer to avoid. And it’s well documented that trying to make a living as an author is pretty near impossible unless your last name rhymes with ‘Fancy’ or ‘Brawling’.

Despite all that, it’s a profession people flock to, spend thousands training to be, and wouldn’t give up for anything. Widely-accepted studies show 80% of us have a book we want to share–despite that industry stats show it takes five years to hone and deliver an acceptable novel.

It may–or may not–surprise you to know that pursuing a writing career has less to do with that magical feeling you get turning words into pictures and more to do with what writers get to do that no one else gets to. Here are seven things we can do that no one else gets to:

Create new words

We can–and are expected to–create words to fit a situation. Did you think only politicians, speechwriters, and Merriam Webster could do that? Writers are the original neologists. We get to turn nouns into verbs and the reverse (called ‘nounizing’ and ‘verbizing’). True, with our excellent command of vocabulary, we usually come up with the perfect word but when we don’t, we create it. The Global Language Monitor reports that a new word is created every 98 minutes. No one will notice if you slip one in. A few years ago, I added the verb ‘Snowdened’ to the lexicon. It really caught on!

Stare at people with impunity

As a writer. ‘people watching’ is our craft. We need to know exactly how everyday individuals react to common occurrences so we watch them eating, reprimanding children, walking their dogs, talking to the postman, fighting with mates–everything. When you do this, hang a sign around your neck that says ‘Writer at work’ so everyone understands you aren’t staring; you’re developing your craft.

Be quirky and call it cute

Have you noticed writers often are quirky dressers? In fact, if you see someone dressed like they’re going to play golf but they aren’t, they may be a writer. We wear hats, bright colors, hair that’s too long for our age, lipstick that’s too loud for our attitude. Men can hang out with roomful of women if they’re a writer and no one thinks it’s a pick-up line. With writers, quirky is cute.

Choose reading over anything else

The Huffington Post reported that 28% of Americans have not read a book all year. That’s amazing considering, as a writer, it’s part of our skill set. So why don’t people read? As an adult, reading is considered a leisure-time activity. Adults talk about reading as though it’s that finish line they never get to. It’s something they strive for and rarely reach. My reward is to read. I’m going on vacation and planning to read.

Not writers. For us, reading is part of the job. We have to keep up with what others are doing, learn new words, recognize the consequences of flaws, research a topic we are writing about. While others are forced to drink, boy-watch, girl-watch, and attend work-related events, we must read. If you love reading, this might be a reason you pick being a writer over, say, becoming a politician or be the money collector at a toll booth.

Talk to people who are not there

We’re not talking to No One. We’re talking to our characters. They’re answering us. Sometimes, we fight with them, argue, or cajole. We’re trying to find out why they did something or what-the-heck their plan is because we have no idea (it would be nice if they’d share it with their writer, but this is more complicated than it sounds).

Talking to individuals others can’t see is in the job description. Get used to it.

Be anyone we want to be

Not quite the same as ‘be all you can be’, but it’s a cousin to that. With a sweep of our pen, we create a whole new world, drop ourselves in as a brains-and-beauty heroine, save the world, or just rescue a puppy. Doesn’t matter. With words, we can be and do anything we want.

I love that.

Handle rejection

This we do better than anyone should expect to because we get a lot of practice. Writers finish on average a novel a year (although Robert Taylor writes one a month). So every year, we submit to agents who reject us. My goal is one hundred query letters per novel before moving to Plan B. That’s one hundred times I hear No, F*** no, Are you crazy No, Don’t call until I’m dead No, What were you thinking No. There are dozens of ways to say No and I know most of them.

By the time we write three novels (the suggested number required before new authors can find agents), we can quickly recognize, categorize, and move on with a minimal amount of tears.

I’m sure there are more great reasons to become a writer. What would you add to this list?

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers, and Born in a Treacherous Time, first in the Man vs. Nature saga. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for TeachHUB and NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Survival of the Fittest, March 2019, first in the Crossroads Trilogy. You can find her tech ed books at her publisher’s website, Structured Learning


113 thoughts on “7 Things Writers Can Do No One Else Can (or Wants to)

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  4. ‘choose reading over anything else’ is my favourite on your list. as mentioned before, i still struggle with giving myself permission to spend more time reading. i always have a book on the ‘go’ but would like to be stretched out with a book more often. i like reading in beautiful natural environments. lying under a tree is my fav position.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank you Jacqui interesting, and informative as usual.

    I guess there’s all kind of reasons, why someone may want to be a writer, and no doubt some of those reasons may be the wrong reason, but I agree wholeheartedly a writer should be someone who love reading, just recently commented to a fellow blogger how our personal character influence our behavior, and introverted people more likely to read, and decide on writing than an extroverted one, like knowing your Myers-Briggs character typology, knowing ourselves it’s a good way to go on the right direction. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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  7. LOL, I tell people that are new in my circle that I frequently think aloud, that they’re welcome to ignore me unless I use their names. One dear lady told me years later, “Initially I thought you were self-inflated, crazy at best and sometimes rude, but now I get it.” Great articles, Jacqui 💙

    Liked by 1 person

  8. 100 queries is my “line in sand” for considering next step: shelve or continue? I don’t say 100 rejections because too many agents are NORMANs these days (no response means a no).

    Your Snowdened comment reminds me of how “to do a Bradbury” is now an Aussie-ism. It means to accidentally achieve success. Check out this clip to see why: The Most Unexpected Gold Medal In History – Steven Bradbury | Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics. You don’t have to watch it all – skip to 1 min 30sec. The interesting thing is that was his strategy going in. He knew he didn’t have a chance so he sat back and hoped.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I haven’t heard NORMANs. Good one. They actually put that right on their website, as though the years I spent writing isn’t worthy of a response. Sigh.

      Do a Bradbury–hadn’t heard that one either. I love it.


  9. Great post. I identified with every point, though sometimes I think it would be a good idea to wear a big sign saying, ‘don’t mind me, I’m getting ideas for writing stories’. Glad you re-posted it.

    Liked by 1 person

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  11. A fun post, Jackie. I’m partial to “Be anyone we want to be” and “Be quirky.” Though I think anyone can do these, for writers and artists it seems to come more naturally. I’m shocked that 28% of Americans haven’t read a book in a year!!!!!!!!!! Those poor people!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thanks, Jacqui for your thoughtful commentary on readers and writers. My reading comes and goes. When I want to be taken away I find an adventure to capture my imagination. In January 2019 I published my first novel, “Einstein’s Compass a YA Time Traveler Adventure”. This task was the hardest project I have ever attempted. The topic of Einstein captured my imagination in 2012. The story came to me in 2014. Over the next four years, I spent countless hours researching the details. I also had to learn how to write fiction with all its quirky rules. I read books on writing, took workshops and sat listening to authors on webinars. I felt stretched in every direction inwardly and outwardly as I spent more than $10,000 to create a professional novel. Now my job is to put on my marketing hat to promote my work of fiction to the world. The book market is saturated with millions of titles. So my task to sell enough books to breakeven is daunting. However, “Einstein’s Compass” is receiving 4 and 5 stars on Amazon. I am exploring the option to travel to various book events to promote my new creation. Wish me luck or better yet, buy my book.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jacqui,

    Fun and interesting read. I loved what you said about talking to oneself. “Talking to individuals others can’t see is in the job description. Get used to it.” I will have to remember to shot this back to DH when he says, “You know how that looks, don’t you?” Why is it I didn’t see the validity behind my talking to myself as being creative? This makes purrfect sense! Thanks for arming me with a good come back the next time DH pokes fun at me. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Brilliant post, so funny and witty and yet precisely true. I love that you included rejection because, honestly, that still frightens me to death, to the point where I struggle to submit things because of the fear of it. I’m not there with the thick skin yet, but what you say really helps to put things in perspective. As always, I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Love it!
    For me, one of the most awesome things about being a writer is that I get to kill villains, and not end up in prison!
    Of course, killing the good guys is harrowing, but has to be faced as well. That makes us really strong individuals.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Jacqui, so glad you reposted this… you’ve given us writers free rein to be a bit ‘odd’ in life! I worried that I was the only one talking away to my characters, glad to know this is all normal behaviour! 😀

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Happy Monday Jacqui! I love this post❤️ spot on with each of the points that writers “can” do! By the grace, of God, I’m a writer. I love my quirky style 😉 I’m blessed by all that I’ve learned following amazing writers like you! Blessings and Thank you, my wonderful friend, ❤️ you’re post, set me free to write, write, did I mention write! 😀

    Liked by 2 people

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