Single Most Important Attribute in a Writer

I was inspired this week by Tom Blubaugh’s article, “It’s easy to brand your name fast”. I loved his crazy idea of standing in a traffic jam (caused by a mis-park of your own car) and creating-an-ad-hoc- audience-by-flailing-your-book-from-on-top-of-your-car scenario and his warning not to actually do this stunt!

As he’s listed must do’s for marketing your book, I’m going to take you back to the basic necessity of having a (new) book to market and discuss what to do when you’re stuck!

The single most important thing a writer needs is a piece of writing. There is no easy way, unfortunately, to become a writer or an author other than to write. It takes time and patience. And the way to do that is simply to persevere.

It may seem like an obvious thing to say but there are days when you don’t feel up to it, days when you seem too busy, days when distractions abound. But you know what? There’s nothing like “keep on keeping on” to ensure you have a product to market at the end of the day, week, month or year.

Yes, writing is a slog. Sometimes it’s a darn hard slog. But it’s worth the effort. And the way to make sure you finish, is to keep writing every day. Bit by bit, you’ll get to the finish line. Remember the tortoise and the hare? Slowly, consistently, surely, you’ll complete your task.

When you feel uninspired, think of the goal. When you feel dry and unimaginative, look out the window or gaze at a beautiful painting or photograph. Find a word and chew on it, until is becomes a sentence, and that sentence leads you to a stanza or a paragraph. That piece will fit somewhere in your project. It will, you’ll see. Just keep on keeping on.

In this world of fast food, fast cars and short relationships, the dedication and commitment it takes to make a book, to tell a story, to build a project takes time to nurture and time to grow.

There’s a play called Hedda Gabler, written by a playwright, Henrick Ibsen over a century ago (I’m a drama grad though why I don’t write plays instead of books is another story for another time…). In Hedda Gabler one of the characters is a writer. Hedda refers to his precious manuscript as a child. The story takes place long before computers and internet and there is only one copy of this manuscript which means it needs even more love and care than it might today.

A book, a play, a manuscript is like a child. It begins as an idea and grows cell by cell/word by word, until it takes on its own form and character.

Nurture this book (or article, or poem series…) while its still forming. Imagine it as it grows; give it a name, which may change as it blossoms; spend time and focus on it, so that it becomes all it was conceived to be. And when you give birth, then there is the marketing, promotion and celebration to let everyone else know it’s arrived.

Writing is primarily a solitary journey. Like pregnancy, no one but the mother fully senses the life that’s growing within. Composing a book is a process. Allow the time needed to develop the fetus so that you can give birth, in due course, to something beautiful.

Sarah Tun

Writer, author, poet, coach, developmental editor, proof reader, audio book recording artist

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4 thoughts on “Single Most Important Attribute in a Writer”

  1. I love the pregnancy idea,hopefully our child won’t grow up to be a shmuck. Thanks for the article.

  2. Thanks, Hortenzia. Yes, if we recognise our precious MS is like a child, we may feel more inclined to be kind to ourselves when we are frustrated with its lack of cooperation:)

  3. By the by, folks, I’ve decided to make a commitment to myself and to you. Every month, on the 15th or thereabouts, I will post on this Blog for new writers, in particular and all writers, in general, to help us all to grow! See you next here on 15th November:)

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