Sunday 25 July 2010


Our writing and our journey towards our writing goals must inevitably be wrapped up in who we are. As we try to become published and then stay published, we focus, rightly, on the words and the book we're writing. But, in many ways, our personalities shape all that, too. We can't avoid it.

So, what personality traits are needed to hack it as a writer?

I wasn't thinking about this much until I came across this rather fascinating article by editor Victoria Mixon. Of course, she doesn't mean to delineate these as truly separate personality types, but they do contain different traits which are varyingly helpful or not towards our success and equilibrium.

One sentence stood out for me: "The publishing industry is nobody's mommy." Oh, how very true. I just heard of two friends being dropped by their publishers this week. Successful, talented, award-winning, but not writing the books their publishers want any more. So, there's another personality type you need to develop: the Versatile Opportunist.

I blogged here about the need for writers to diversify and be practical, not to have all our eggs in one basket, and I've now been invited to speak about this. If you're interested, it's free and you'd be most welcome to come. 
Weegie Wednesday - August 11th - 7.30pm onwards
Glasgow - venue details from me
Weegie Wednesday is a monthly event in a bar, where writers - unpublished or published - and others connected to publishing gather to chat and listen to a couple of speakers over plenty of wine. It's free but you buy your own drinks. I'm hoping someone might buy one for me... If you're interested - in coming, not in buying me a drink! - drop me an email at and I'll let you know the venue. I hope to meet you there.

Meanwhile, be opportunistic, be versatile, be realistic, be professional - but please don't lose the heart and soul of your writing.


Dan Holloway said...

A very wise post. The opportunism aspect especially - writers who want publishers need to have that entrepreneurial streak, a willingness to adapt to what people want.

I would add to your profile the right mix of self-doubt and self-belief. Self-doubt because I think if we ever think we have it sorted we lose the openness to others that's essential to keep your work from becoming introspective and self-indulgent (and, of course, inflexible). And self-belief to ensure that whilst you always listen, you retain utter confidence in your vision. I think it's that balance that enables you to have flexibility AND not lose the heart and soul of your work.

And I couldn't agree more about diversifying. Whilst it's pretty much slog slog slog to sell one or two copies of books I reckon are pretty damn good, I've found people more than happy to pay me for knocking off articles that, to be honest, are just that, knocked off in half an evening, about mental health. And there seems to be no end of demand for music reviews with daft titles and tongue-in-cheek sentencecraft.

Nicole said...

Sounds good :) Bummer I'm not in the country *grin*

M Harold Page said...

I was once a bar pianist, and later fronted a rock and roll band. If people asked for "That jeans advert", we'd slam on into Muddy Waters "Mannish Boy" and enjoy it. It's possible to be opportunist in seeking to please your paying audience at the same time as maintaining your integrity. It's what artists have always done, and it's part of the fun.

Mary@GigglesandGuns said...

Very wise and sound advice.

catdownunder said...

I write because I have to. I am not happy unless I am creating with words. Does that count?

M. M. Justus said...

Why is it that every good post I'm reading lately is forcing me to actually figure out for myself why I'm doing this?

Writing, that is.

I feel like I'm being dragged in the right direction, kicking and screaming.

sheilamcperry said...

What I like most about diversifying is that at least some of what you learn by doing one thing enhances the other - even if you only learn to work at something until it's finished (not my strong point!).

Amanda said...

HA! Thanks for the link -- great article. I think the personality trait of "butt in chair" (diligent) is the one that will reap success for all types of writers.