Seven Traits Important to Every Writer

TexasRed Books has nominated The Sky’s the limit for a Kreativ Blogger award for “Best Writing Encouragement.” As part of my commitment for receiving the award I present seven traits important to every writer:

1. Creativity.

JRR Tolkien wrote about the writer’s status as sub-creator. God made us in His image. That means we are creative just as He is creative.

To be a sub-creator is to bring into existence something new or original. If we’re not bringing something worthwhile to our readers or clients, we might as well put away our pens and go home.

2. Honesty.

There’s nothing new under the sun. Every story out there has been told already. But each one of us offers a unique viewpoint. Readers are looking for that unique viewpoint.

That’s why honesty is so important. Red Smith, a Pulitzer winning columnist, is credited with saying, “Writing is easy. You just open a vein and bleed.” We have to open ourselves to readers, which means telling the truth even when we don’t like the consequences.

3. Dependability.

Every one of us projects a personal brand. Our personal brands train readers and clients to expect certain behavior from us.

When we say we’re going to do something, we had better deliver. That especially includes meeting deadlines.

4. Service.

It is crucial that a writer determines his target audience. Our audience determines what we write and how we write it. If we have any ambitions beyond a vanity-printed book only our mothers would buy, we must think about our readers.

Tom White — author, editor, and publisher — once told me, “We are creatures of insatiable ego.” As writers we need to lay aside selfish concerns and seek ways to benefit our readers.

5. Community.

Writing is a solitary activity? Well, yes and no. Surrounding oneself with a community of like-minded people is a great motivator.

Whether it’s a physical community like West Texas Writers or an online community like Twitter, we need our fellow writers to keep us engaged in our craft.

6. Literacy.

This one seems overly obvious, but I come across blogs all the time with gross errors in punctuation, grammar, and spelling. Mistakes happen (my weakness is the comma), but errors should be kept to an absolute minimum.

Familiarity with the dictionary, thesaurus, and a style manual is a wonderful thing. Taking a few extra minutes to double check the small stuff will set us above our competitors.

7. Love.

What is it all for if we don’t have love? The Apostle Paul, whose writing has shaped Western (and perhaps Eastern) thought for centuries, told his readers something interesting.

He said that even if he was the most awesome, gifted, selfless guy to ever tread the face of the planet, he would be nothing without love. He said his communication would be like a tinkling cymbal — nothing but noise.

What traits do you think are important for writers to have? Do you disagree with any that I’ve listed?


About James A Woods
Freelance Writer, Constant Learner, Family Man

One Response to Seven Traits Important to Every Writer

  1. Ly Syin says:

    Thank you, I like the first point people about being sub-creators. It makes me think about Wide Awake. If He is the master creator and we are created in his image it would make sense, that we are sub-creators. My weakness is proof-reading between being dyslexic and anxious my writing suffers, but this is my year to work on that.

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