writers / writing

Traits of a Writer

During my promo for Laws of Nature. the book prior to Natural Selection, one of my wonderful hosts posted this article I wrote about traits of a writer. In case missed it, here’s a revisit:


At times, I wonder if I’m missing some critical piece required to be a Real Writer. I do a lot of the right things–

  • I read, a lot.
  • I’m observant.
  • I’m a loner (or, the flip side–I don’t mind being alone).
  • I bloom where I’m planted.

But is that enough? I went in search of other traits successful friends have that might inform my endless quest to succeed in a craft that few can. Here’s what I found:

  1. Writers have a selective memory–they forget the bad stuff people say and remember the good. Otherwise, we get depressed.
  2. Writers are conversant with their muse–anywhere, any time, any subject. It doesn’t matter. When s/he starts talking, writers listen.
  3. Writers are tethered to their voicemail in case that Big Call from an agent comes through. If there is no call, they check to be sure their voicemail is working properly.
  4. Writers understand the importance of taking a break to do something fun, like read a book. If they are one of those unlucky folk who get writer’s block, this will suffice.
  5. Writers never show fear in front of their computer. It’s like a dog–it smells our distress. It’ll then do nasty things like crash in the middle of a scene or corrupt your file.
  6. You can tell a lot about a writer by the way he/she handles three things: rejection, fame, and a change in their schedule.
  7. In golf, one of 14 clubs has to be the right decision. In writing, all 14 are wrong because readers want unique.
  8. Writers don’t want to be judged by what s/he does between the lines.
  9. Writers believe in the impossible, in miracles, and in Santa Claus. They will spend hours on a paragraph, or sentence, and consider it time well spent.
  10. To rephrase Voltaire: “No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking from a writer.”
  11. Where the engineer thinks of his equations as an approximation to reality, and the physicist thinks reality is an approximation to his equations, the writer thinks it doesn’t matter if the prose are elegant.

And #12: The most prevalent trait: We are dreamers, positive thinkers, and don’t know how to quit even if it would be in our best interests. That above all else is part of the heart and soul of so many writers I admire.

How about you? What defines your experiences as a writer?


Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Fall 2022.

87 thoughts on “Traits of a Writer

  1. I enjoyed your list and the Voltaire one was new to me and so good
    “No problem can stand the assault of sustained thinking from a writer”

    Also / I just watched “last Call” (2002) a movie about F Scott Fitgerald’s assistant during the drafting of his final book (last tycoon) and Fitzgerald have the assistant some feedback on her work and it was brutal – then he said something about how she had to learn to be treated like a writer (and manage honest and tough feedback) which tied in to many aspects in your list here / especially #8 and #6….
    Enjoyed this post so much

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing!!.. perhaps you need to follow that advice of Mr. Bennett; “Don’t be pushed around by the fears in your mind. Be led by the dreams in your heart.” (Roy T. Bennett )… I do… 🙂

    Until we meet again..
    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d say I have about 2/3 of the qualities. I have problems thinking that it’s time well spent when I spend hours on a paragraph. I tend to think something is wrong with me that I can’t think of a word, or make a paragraph sound awesome. I love the post, though, to let me know that I’m not the only one who takes hours to write just the right thing.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Jacqui, these are interesting traits and I do have some of them, but not other. I don’t think I am defined by my writing and I also am not defined by my day job. I suppose that just leaves me either a devoted mother or a completely muddled person, and I am going for the second one.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Yes, those are great traits. I would add that writers are tenacious and disciplined. They learn, mostly the hard way, that there are no shortcuts to success, however they define it. And maybe that’s another trait. They define success their own way, not by the measuring sticks others try to foist on them.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I think we are similar in a lot of ways. I cracked up when I read this line, “Writers never show fear in front of their computer” I can relate to this so much. Haha 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Those are all spot on. The only one I’d add is, “Writers, write.”
    You need a daily/weekly or some regular writing schedule – even if you throw most in the trash. You have to take all that goes through you brain and try getting on a page.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. A writer is either a utopian or an ideologist (to borrow from Karl Mannheim’s book, “Ideology and Utopia”. Such a simplification seems right for we either envision a better world or prop up the existing one.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. The traits of a writer are unique. Each writer has their heart and soul into everything they pen. We birth our creativity so the world can dream. No child on the planet is like another. So is our writing. I cherish the special touch of each person who dares create words on paper. We are all those on your list and more.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Writing is, in a real sense, an outlet. That is, there’s a creative force inside writers that has chosen the written word as its way to be expressed. Some writers have more than one creative outlet. They might be painters or musicians too, for example.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. Good morning, dear Jacqui,
    we like no. 11. But we cannot identify with no. 12. All the successful writers we know (including ourselves) don’t see themselves as dreamers but rather as intellectuals. Heart and soul (could you define ‘soul’) is something that hobby writers praise as well as writers of chick lit to escape criticism.
    Wishing you all the best
    The Fab Four of Cley
    🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  12. Hi Jacqui – these make sense … if you’re hooked in to being an author – a happy way out has to be found somehow … a balanced one at that. Research hasn’t been mentioned – perhaps that’s more for historical works … but even as a blogger I want to be unique and to keep learning. I love this post and your thoughts- cheers Hilary

    Liked by 3 people

  13. Pingback: Traits of a Writer — – uwerolandgross

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