Writer’s Job Description

Key Attributes:size ten

  • Possess excellent communication skills and be able to address delicate subjects, such as
    • Plot
    • Internal and external conflict
    • Writing engaging dialogue that reveals character and moves the story forward
    • Show and not tell at the right time
    • Tell and not show as needed
  • Have strong organizational skills and be a magical problem solver
    • Keep the facts straight, ages, times of day, places, etc.
    • Will be required to create scenes out of thin air
    • Name the characters right… i.e, Gladys, could never have pulled off Scarlett
    • Be willing to change the tense and point of view after typing THE END
  • Be willing to work variable hours
    • Including the middle of the day, before coffee but not recommend, and even at 3 AM
    • Evenings and weekends
    • During dinner parties (might include running to the facilities to make a note on a phone app, back of hand, or paper found in bathroom)
    • Day dream when it hits, including mid conversation with your significant other or the police officer writing you a ticket for talking to yourself in a public setting
    • Be on stand by if the muse visits, an idea settles in, or you wake up with a story pulsing through your veins
    • Write – DAILY (this may include work on WIP’s, Dear Diary, Memoir entries, Morning Pages, raw writing, love letters, or notes on the back of napkins)
  • Be OK with frequent long shifts
    • Write in early morning and into the wee hours
    • Write when you’d rather sleep
    • Write when you’d rather watch reruns of Dancing with the Stars
    • Write when you’d rather meet your lover (OK, exceptions are allowed, lovers should come first, same applies to children, the small ones, over 13’s can be taught to respect a crazed writer in the thralls of a creative frenzy)

Minimum Job Requirements

  • Accept it’s a lifetime commitment
  • Respond to the voices in your head in a timely manner
  • Capable of industrial strength clean up during editing phases – Must be fearless with the DELETE key
  • There is no get out of jail free card (once you don the writer persona you are labeled forever more, if you have plastic surgery, change your name or try to enter the Witness Protection Program, your voices and your muse will follow you, even to Timbuktu)
  • Xena and Hulk like body and emotional armor REQUIRED to withstand rejection after rejection
  • Have unlimited faith in yourself (you’ll need it)
  • Ability to take constructive criticism without reverting to a fetal position
  • Same Xena/Hulk like strength REQUIRED to push past the criticism and self-doubt and shoulder onward
  • Comfortable being alone for extended periods of time
  • Strong support network
  • Be able to write frugally but deeply, honestly, and passionately
  • Be prepared to fall instantly in love/hate and accept it will be this way until your draw your last breath
  • Must assume accountability for the quality of the final output
  • Must have a surplus of medical supplies, chocolate chip cookies, and wine
  • Commitment to continuously feed the creative beast – entails long walks, day dreaming, leafing through the magazines, reading the National Enquirer, reading books (all kinds), going to museums, listening to music, making lists, taking pictures, breathing, allowing life to follow freely through you

Perks (there are none, but if you are still reading, then you’re mad as a hatter and deserve to know the rest)


  • There is no advancement – NONE AT ALL. Fame and fortune are not the end game. Writing is a calling and not a choice. Even the famous and very rich writers accept this about the job.

Previous Experience

  • None is required except a burning desire to weave a tale, confess a secret, and live forever on the page (even if that page is a diary you leave behind for your children).  A pinch of madness and determination goes a hell of a long way.


  • Unless you have a job outside the home there is no compensation unless you pen the next big thing. Think outside of Bella and Edward, or sex in chains. Dance with the wind.


  • Other than sparse to non-existent opportunities for personal growth there isn’t any.  If however, you are fearless and don’t care about benefits, you might find a passion that will weather all the seasons of your life.

Preferred Traits:  

  • Extreme quirkiness
  • Willingness to take risks and try new ideas
  • Having a whimsical attitude is a huge plus, as well as the ability to laugh when tears are more appropriate.
  • Deeply passionate
  • Be exceptionally forgiving
  • Gritty resolve
  • Gumption

 If this is you, in as many words as you need, tell me why?  

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I’m a writer and hoarder of one-size-fits-all panty hose. Until the hose fits over my bum, I write to provide an alternative view on writing and perfection.

50 thoughts on “Writer’s Job Description

    • Bev – I must, I must, I must. Me, too, and always. Xena, oh I how I wish.. for her armor, of course. And yes, so much worse if I had never taken the chance.

  1. Yes, yes, yes, yes, right on down your amazing list! It’s an addiction, no question about it, but I would add one perk: we become part of the incredible global community of writers. In particular, I refer to the supportive, collegial and inspiring online community of writers, bloggers, and assorted literati. Whether we have a question, seek inspiration, need a shoulder, or are looking for laughter … it’s there to be found. Lucky us!
    Patricia Sands recently posted….She Walks In Beauty ~ Beauty Of A Woman BlogfestMy Profile

    • Patricia – oh yes, a good one and most definitely a perk of the virtual community. I dare say Emily and Charlotte would have welcomed our global tribe of mad as hatter writers.

  2. “Extreme quirkiness
    Willingness to take risks and try new ideas
    Having a whimsical attitude is a huge plus, as well as the ability to laugh when tears are more appropriate.
    Deeply passionate
    Be exceptionally forgiving
    Gritty resolve

    Yep, yep, yep. Apparently, mad as a hatter. I’m in!

  3. Oh man, I just want to hang out with you. Another writer gets the crazies, gets the jotting down snippets of conversation or anything else that will fit into this or that – the having faith in yourself because you’ll need it, and on and on. I think I’ll print this and use it as my manifesto. A reminder. And lots and lots of truths that no one but someone else who writes would understand. I have 2 sisters who are realtors and a brother who does something math and engineering dominant and they SO don’t understand their “writer” sister. How did I come out of this bunch? I guess every family needs “one.”
    Barbara recently posted….a writer’s artMy Profile

    • Barbara – I am game to hang out, drink and swap stories. I am the odd woman out in my family as well. My mom and sister think I am truly a mad hatter. Don’t worry, there is a special place for us in the heavens, padded clouds.

  4. Tragically all true, but guess what we love it really and wouldn’t have it any other way!! Another brilliant piece! [Here’s an idea….gather them up and publish them as a book of meditations for writers. Have you heard of the Yarn Harlot? She did just that with her musings on knitting and her book did become the Next Best Thing! ]
    Edith recently posted….Women’s Literary FictionMy Profile

  5. k~

    “In as many words…”

    That would require focus, which only comes after the settling of dreams (which are still rumbling around in my head looking for a place to light) and my second cup of coffee (which has been postponed because of the urge to spit words out into cyber, rather than make another cup).

    Words started as an external means of communicating the complex internal dialogue that was unsafe to share as a child… and became a habit, or part of my entire structural being. I write while I am having conversations, walking, talking, sleeping… it’s just part of who I am. No reward? hmmm I will be contemplating that for a while.
    k~ recently posted….Window Watching (Friday Fictioneers)My Profile

  6. Oh, yes, Brenda! You’ve said it all! Writing is a passion, that’s for sure. When we’re called to write, there’s no turning back. Since I’ve devoted my life to this profession, I’ve never been happier or crazier or free-spirited. I live to write and will do so until the day I take my last breath.
    Blessings, my friend, and thanks for this amazing post!
    Martha Orlando recently posted….All in God’s TimeMy Profile

  7. This is great! And so true! It’s a hard profession, and you are so right to point out you can only do it if you love it. However, I think there is a way to make a living as a writer, even if you don’t write the next big thing: by writing a lot of books! So many authors spend years on one manuscript, and there’s no way to make it that way, unless it’s a Harry Potter or a Eat, Pray, Love. Gotta write, write, write! 😀

  8. Hi Brenda,

    Nope, not me. I don’t have what it takes. But there’s hope! Each new day — even today — comes with yet another opportunity to do better by brushing up on some of the peskier items on that list.

    As much as I love it, writing is hard. Too hard, on many days. Doing a lot of it and doing it consistently is how I would describe the essential first steps to becoming a good writer, so I’ve got my work cut out for me.

    You, on the other hand, are due for a perk for your resolve. :)
    Ray Colon recently posted….Not Naming Any NamesMy Profile

    • But, Ray, you do, truly. It does take an effort, which is harder than going to the gym. Everyday I think I don’t have anything to say but fifteen minutes into it I can’t stop. Sometimes I have to write a few pages before I get to the good stuff. Try it.

  9. I absolutely love this Brenda – the whole thing. This requirement struck me in particular, probably because I am struggling with juggling so many projects, was: “Write – DAILY (this may include work on WIP’s, Dear Diary, Memoir entries, Morning Pages, raw writing, love letters, or notes on the back of napkins)”. I also like description of Advancement opportunites (LOL). So true. You have to love writing, although I will say there are benefits, just not of the sort necessarily valued in the material world.
    Carol Apple recently posted….For St. Valentine’s Day: Some of the best things I’ve read about loveMy Profile

    • Carol, so glad to hear. I can completely relate to the juggling act, me too. I am working on two large projects, which doesn’t include the blog post and social media networking. It’s not that it’s hard but there is always the issue of time. I say focus on the top two projects you feel most connected to. I used to worry A LOT about writing leading me somewhere, now I don’t. I keep moving forward, one word at a time.

  10. Hi Brenda,

    Yes I can definitely relate to the entire list right down to the chocolate cookies. Writing is certainly an addiction. It’s something some of us absolutely have to do no matter what. It’s what keeps us alive. I love the excitement of it and all the emotions that go with it. And so glad to be part of a group that totally understands the pull of it. Love you all…….Nancy

    • Hi Nancy, I often wonder how are fore-sisters, the writer and poets, felt, and how luck we are to send our words out into the world. I think it’s peaceful addiction, one that calms the heart.

    • Beth – I’m with you on that one.. writing, regardless if it’s in my pink diary, or on the back of a napkin, is magical. As for love, always.

  11. Because I can’t afford therapy, and when I write, I can feel all the crazy pouring out.

    This is a great description… so glad I found it for reference the next time someone asks me what I do!

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