Monday, October 4, 2010

Types of Writers

"It is impossible to discourage the real writers - they don't give a damn what you say, they're going to write."

- Sinclair Lewis

I recently read Page after Page: Discover the Confidence & Passion you Need to Start Writing & Keep Writing (No Matter What!) by Heather Sellers. Long title, right? Ms. Sellers recommends: write everyday, have confidence, don’t whine, and don’t take rejections personally. I know, easier said than done. She provides writing exercises to help you along at the end of each chapter. (I confess; I did not do these writing exercises.)

The part of the book that spoke to me was near the end was deciding what type of writer I want to be in five years. These are taken from the book:

A closet writer. (Write every day, but never reveal you do so.)

A wanna-be writer. (Talk about what you want to write and how unfair and hard publishing is.)

A nonwriting writer. (Think about your writing a lot. Get complex illnesses instead of words down on paper. Decide you are “busy”.)

A duped writer. (Say, “I’ll write later,” and know inside you won’t. Hang around people who will play this sad game with you.)

A famous writer. (Write every day. Trade work with people a little better than you. Read every day. Go to writing conferences and school. Learn a lot.)

A smart, quiet literary writer. (Have a devoted, tiny following.)

A one-hit wonder writer.

A struggling-against-himself writer. (Write a couple of times a month. Spend a lot of time listening to the demons who tell you the work sucks. Indulge these voices. Or, drink a lot.)

Which writer(s) have you been?

Which writer(s) are you now?

Which writer(s) do you hope to be?

Although I didn’t write every day, I was a closet writer for years. I’m ashamed to admit that when I began writing seriously, and then queried, I spent way too much time in the wanna-be writer mindset. And too often, I’ve been a struggling-against-myself writer (without the massive drinking problem) because I’m harder on myself than anyone.

As for five years from now, I’m going to be honest and say I want to be a famous writer. Well, I don’t want the paparazzi hounding me, but I’d like to make a living from writing. And I do write nearly everyday now. I have for over a year. I don’t always write fiction each time. But I will from now on. Because if I want to be a full-time writer, then I need to keep from putting barriers in my way. There are enough hurdles to jump over to write well, land an agent, and become published. I’m not going to whine, tell myself how bad I am, and stop writing. Or I’ll never get there.

This week, I’ve promised to write one k per day in October per the Operation Awesome Challenge . Want to join me? My summer was spent on rewrites instead of new material. But for the past few weeks, I’ve gotten back in the habit of writing rough drafts of fiction again. I wrote and submitted a short story for an anthology. I’m making progress on Naked Eye (6k and counting). In the meantime, I’ve redone my query (AGAIN) for Mist Chasers Query Revised, which is up on Earnest Writer’s Excerpts. And I’ve sent out five more queries, while a few more are pending.

Five years from now, I want to look back and say that I’ve done it. I made the commitment to write each day. And I kept querying until I landed an agent. A publisher picked up my manuscript (maybe after a lucrative bidding war). And when it got published, I promoted the heck out of the book. And it did well enough for my publisher to keep publishing my books. Most importantly, I made a difference in my readers’ lives.

Where do you want to be five years from now?


  1. Published. 5 years from now I want to be published with a book doing well, very well and one that I am proud to have written :)

  2. yes definitely published. yes definitely famous :o) LOL well, the fame thing doesn't really concern me, but I would like to be appreciated by my readers! Even if only a small circle. :o)

  3. What kind of writer am I? My kind isn't in the list!

    I don't need the drama of demons, or dishonesty of excuses, or the vanity of whingeing...

    I'm a happy story dreamer.
    5 years from now? I'd rather like to continue being happy.
    Ha, you scoff when I say you're a serious writer and yet you strive so hard. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I'm looking forward to ordering some of your books. : j

  4. Five years from now, I'd like to be published. That is all. I don't care if it makes the bestseller list, or if I become famous, or if my book becomes really popular; having the ability to say "Oh, yes, I published my novel" would be enough for me. :)

  5. Hi,

    I literally hate "How To Books"

    I've been down the published route, fell out of it because of a serious riding accident, and now trying to break back in! Believe me, it's no easier to achieve it second-time around than it is for a first-time writer.

    Just Write is my motto, don't let the harpy "How To's" of this world frighten you off with fear and angst as to whether you're doing it the right way.

    The right way to know is to read several bestsellers published in your chosen genre, then dissect and absorb their structure. Easy-peasy! ;)


  6. Yes I'm with you! Published, full-time writer. go go go us! ;--)

  7. I want to be a better writer five years from now than I am today.

  8. I would love to be published in five years but if I'm not I'll just keep plugging.
    I, too, was a closet writer, then maybe a wanna be writer but now a famous writer. I'm sure famous is the right word but I'm writing everyday, keeping my lips sealed and mingling.
    One day, right?

  9. Yay to 1k a day -- I'm with ya all the way. :)

    Where do I want to be in five years...hmm. I hope I've got an agent and a couple of books published under my belt. Oh, and that I'll have discovered a way to exercise without effort. :)

  10. @ Tabitha, I hope you reach your goal. I could live with that too.

    @ Jessica, I wish there had been a happy medium between famous author and a small, devoted following. If I want to be a full-time writer, I need to make enough money to do it!

    @ Alesa, it is a limited list. You don't fit in any of the categories. Continuing to be happy is definitely a worthy goal.

    I hope I have a book to sell sometime soon.

    @ The Golden Eagle, let's hope we can both say we have a published novel (or two or more) in five years.

    @ Francine, I look more for inspirational books rather than a how-to nuts and bolts approach. Learning about editing and brushing up on grammar are the best books for me.

    I've heard it's hard to get back in. I hope you can get back in.

    Thanks for the advice.

  11. @ Christina, let's both reach our dreams! Go, go, go!

    @ Anita, what a wonderful thing to say. No matter where we are in our journey, let us become better writers.

    @ Christine, if writing everyday makes us famous, that's what we have to do.

    I like your philosophy to keep writing even if you're not published. I will too.

    @ Lindsay, an agent, a couple of published books, and a fit body without exercise? Sign me up!

  12. I like your attitude, that following lots of hard work and focus and dedication, you'll reach a successful writing place in your life. There's lots of passion in those plans. I feel the same, and would love to be in that place, too, five years from now. Happy writing to you :)

  13. 1K a day seems like a good goal to me! And five years from now? Hm...let's be realistic. I would like to be agented five years from now. Maybe I have a book out, maybe I don't yet. But I want to be able to fill out one of those "OCCUPATION" lines at the doctor's office with the title of Author. :)

  14. GOOD LUCK!! I think you'll really make it - I really do - I feel it in my tired ol creaky bones!!LOL!! You've got the attitude and the talent and the determination!! You just need a little little bit of luck - et voila!!! :-)

    Good luck with your October challenge!!! Good luck with your submissions and short story writing!! Yay for you!!!!

    I'm still in the throes of my re-writes - I've stopped at chapter 17 and am returning to chapter 1 cos something clicked about the plot that I must have missed but now I need to incorporate it back right at the beginning! LOL!!!

    Five years from now? Much older and none the wiser more like! LOL! take care

  15. @ Joanne, I like your mention of passion. If we don't have passion as well as commitment, what are we doing?

    @ Ant, I've been writing "substitute teaching" as my job description for over a year. I'd love to ditch that! Let's plan to have better occupations to write on miscellaneous forms.

    @ Old Kitty, If your bones are creaky, what are mine? We're about a year apart! Thanks for all my good luck.

    I go back to chapter was often, after my frequent epiphanies. All the way to 17?! Good for you!

  16. I read Page after Page and really liked it. This writer list really makes me think. I've been a lot of them at different times, and I think where I'll end up is the literary writer with a small following. If I could win a prize it would be nice. You know, like Pulitzer...

  17. Yikes. Well I have been a mixture of so many types. I wish I weren't but I tend to wait on everyone else instead of forging my own way. In 5 years I hope I can be the published author who continues to write daily.

  18. I am the typing-from-bed kind of writer who is pretty happy with her place in the blog-o-sphere! Where would like to be in five years? Maybe I'll move to a chair just to kick things up a notch.

  19. Great list. And yes, at times I've been several of these. Right now I think I'm the smart, quiet literary writer. Five years - I hope to be published, with a couple of books under my belt and working on the next one. Fun post.
    Lisa ~ YA Literature Lover

  20. @ KarenG, a Pulitzer? That would be awesome! You're writing everyday and you have a cool job, so I think you're in a good place right now.

    @ Anne, I hope find your own way and reach your goals.

    @ Bossy Betty, move to a chair? Radical! I do most of my writing on a love seat. When someone is in my spot when I want to write, I get stressed. But I do have a laptop, so I am flexible. Sort of.

    @ Lisa, you're editing one and about to start another. You're well on your way!

  21. I've been a closet writer, and a nonwriting writer in the past. Five years from now, I want to be a famous writer. Like you, I don't want the paparazzi houding me, but I do want to make a living writing.

  22. Which writer(s) have you been? I have been the closet writer but I know have outed myself to my on-line community of writers. Not to my family yet though.

    Which writer(s) are you now? I'm not just a normal writers struggling to get by and telling the self-defeating demons to shutup.

    Which writer(s) do you hope to be? The famous writer.

    Where do you want to be five years from now? I want to be done all 8 books I've started.


  23. Oh definitely published, writing full-time and enjoying it!! I have to start with the first part, commitment to get my WIPs finished. Step by step right? But definitely writing full time is my goal.

  24. Published, Theresa. I'd like my book to be published. I'd like to write more than 3-4 days a week. I'd like to do more than 2K words a day. I'd like to be able to finish my book in the next 2-3 months or less! But God, it is difficult with all the running around!!! *sigh* Thanks for this great post! Another one I like so much :)

  25. @ Jessica, it's our luck that very few authors get hounded so we can have the impact on readers and the fortune without the paparazzi. ; )

    @ Clarissa, I can't believe you keep it from your family. Nobody has stumbled upon your blog? Do you use your real name?

    Good luck completing your eight books.

    @ Talei, we all start somewhere. Make the commitment and you'll finish your WIPs.

  26. @ Len, I hope you achieve every item on your list.

    I'm glad you like this post!

  27. I've been them all, but the title Famous writer most fits my writing habits. Well, except the famous part.

  28. Publication would be my ideal, but I have to give up my "fights-against-self" style. I was more of an everyday writer how lost the "spark" and working on finding it again.

    Crossing fingers that NaNo can do that :D

    Great post!

  29. I've been a nonwriting writer forever. I'd create worlds and characters in my head and on pages and pages of looseleaf papers, but seldom in writing. Of course, I'd love to be a famous writer (don't we all?), but I'm just making it a mission to write every day and continue writing regardless of setbacks.

    I'm also joining the 1k per day challenge -- but haven't been successful so far because I'm still outlining my WiP. But I do realize that that's an excuse. So I'm buckling down to write as soon as I have a firm enough sense of chapter 1. :)

  30. I really like this post. A lot. =)

    Can I combine two of the types? Like a famous writer who drinks a lot? lol.

  31. @ Travis, I think Heather Sellers is trying to tell us if we write each day, we automatically become famous. Sweet deal.

    @ Erica, I hope you get your spark back. Those types of thoughts plague me too. I bet they even creep in on the famous writers. Maybe.

    @ Sandy, I hope you're done outlining and get to writing soon. The writing part is where all the magic happens.

    @ Shannon, if you want to be a famous drinker who drinks a lot, I won't judge. ; )

  32. Hmmmm, published. A consultant on a movie made from one of my books. Working steadily on my next bestseller.....and finding time to visit or vacay with some of my blogging buddies. It will be hard because we're all successful now and have schedules to meet. But we'll manage to find wi-fi places....

    And I'm definitely a struggling against myself person. The worst!

  33. hi miss theresa! you sure said lots to think about. i like how you told where you were and where youre going. for me i dont just want to be a famous writer. nope. im GONNA be a famous writer!! and im gonna owe it to all my neat blog friends that taught me soooo much on being a really good writer.
    ...hugs from lenny

  34. @ The Words Crafter, consultant on a movie based on your book? Thinking ahead - smart! You'll avoid those terrible movies.

    Yes, we'll make time for one another.

    @ Lenny, I think you have a great attitude. And you're starting your writing journey nice and young, so you're ahead of most of us writer blogging friends.

  35. Unfortunately, right now I'm a nonwriting writer.I love writing and I talk about it a lot but I haven't really started writing fiction. It will happen soon though! In 5 years I want to be published!

  36. I want to make a living off of my writing, and give my readers a taste of the emotional highs and lows that I feel when reading my favorite writers. I would be beyond happy with that.

  37. Oh, I hear you! I definitely want to be published five years from now. I want to be able to look back and say I did it, I finished it, and I went all the way through with it :)

    I wish it could be something I could make a living from too. Sometimes all the clutter takes away from me doing what I love.

    Sadly, I'm still a closet writer.

  38. Sorry about the query rewrite again. :o(

    Of course I want to be published in five years, but that really isn't something in my control. So I'll say I want to have written at least four more manuscripts and gotten these characters clamoring for their chance out of my head. :o)

    So yeah, I guess in a way I'm still a closet writer, judging by my answer.

    Good luck with querying!

  39. @ Jessica, good luck starting to write fiction. I hope you reach your goal.

    @ Kelly, I read other books and feel the same way. When I'm really moved by a book, I think, I want to create something like that!

    @ WritingNut, you're in the closet too. I found the more I admitted to being a writer, the more I owned it. And I found that just about everyone wants to write. So if you're writing, you're already closer than most people ever get.

    @ Jackee, that's okay. I still hadn't nailed voice and I had too many subplots mixed in. Who knows? Maybe another rewrite will be in order. I hope not!

    I have those voices clamoring in my head too.

    Do you hide your writing from family?

  40. I have to say I spent too many years of my life as a closet writer. Surprised I didn't meet you there!

    In five years I would love to be a published writer, with another project underway. That would be a dream come true.

    You are a very dedicated and determined writer....You will get there!

  41. This is another great post. think I will print it out and keep it somewhere handy. My problem is that my energy goes all over the place. One day I am doing short fiction, the next reflective pieces and then again I could be doing something that might suit a newspaper.

    In the next five years I would like to be making a living from writing... not sure what yet though?

  42. Thoughtful post!! Five years from now I want to be continuing to grow as a writer. No matter where I am in the journey I always want to be improving my craft.

  43. @ Ann, I think we all get our own closets. Besides, I've seen your fictional skeleton closet, and I know it's pretty filled!

    I hope you reach your dream. Thanks for your nice wishes about my dream.

    @ Barbara, I don't think there's anything wrong with writing different types of pieces, as long as you're finishing and submitting them. You've been getting your name out there in Ireland. I'm impressed!

    @ Paulgreci, that's a admirable goal. No matter where we are in our writing journey, we should always strive to improve.

  44. Hi Theresa .. can I be a metamorphosing caterpillar who didn't know they could write - had never tried til a year ago, had never written a story of any kind, or a poem ..

    So now I'm out and crawling .. I have lots of plans and thoughts .. to get more exposure, learn more, have fun and as you say write, write, write ..

    Wonderful descriptions for the writing types .. thanks - have a good week .. Hilary

  45. This is a fantastic post, Theresa! I truly hope to be published five years from now. I'm doing everything I can to make it happen, but I also struggle with daily writing and starting new projects, so... who knows which one I am.

  46. Thanks so much for posting my Splash badge, Theresa! :) Much appreciated.

    Hm, I'm not sure, actually. I'd like to be a serious, professional, and making enough to buy a coffee a day writer. It might be possible!

  47. @ Hilary, you've been writing for a year? It will be interesting to see where your blog takes you.

    @ Shannon, you are working hard and I hope it pays off soon.

    @ Talli, glad to post the Splash badge.

    You're well on your way to make enough to buy a coffee a day. Two nonfiction books with a fiction one on the way ain't too shabby!

  48. Honestly, I can see myself in all of those writers. I fight against myself. Sometimes I put off writing. I tell myself I'll do it later. I don't write every day, nor do I think one must to be a writer. That's a pressure I put on myself and it crushed me. As soon as I gave myself permission to NOT write everyday, things have gone so much better.

    The real fact is, that writer's write. It doesn't matter when, or how much or on what days. What their word counts are, etc. Those who honestly want to learn about the craft, will. Those who honestly want to improve their writing, will.

    I don't want to box myself into a particular type of writer. I constantly strive to get better, try to put my best words on the page. That's all I can do.

  49. First of all, I want to thank you for your friendly comment. I appreciated it. This summer, I have been laid up with foot surgery(bunion surgery) and have not done any blogging.I have done some writing and even tried to submit some of the writing, but they were rejected. Oh! well. I think I can say I am both a closet writer and a wanna be writer.
    I have missed your blog.
    Take care.

  50. @ Elana, I see myself in many of those writers too.

    And I also can't do a number or promise everyday. But making a conscious effort to write more often has been better for me. I realized how long it had been since I'd done something new ---- too long.

    I love your last paragraph and couldn't agree more.

    @ Choices, how great to hear from you. I'm sorry about your surgery, and hope you're feeling better. How great you've been writing. Keep trying!

  51. What a wonderfully written post! I finally called myself a writer after listening to Stephen Kings On Writing. He said there were several types of writers and after I heard what he described I realized I needed to stand up and call myself one to make it real!

    No more closet writer for me! I'm moving up in the world!

    I'm glad to be back to blogging!!! I've missed visiting your blog!!

  52. Hi, I'm new to your blog, but you came on high recommendation from a friend.

    In five years I don't need to have a million dollar contract with Simon & Pulse. I would like to have manuscripts published and new stories waiting for me. I could see myself as a "Smart, quiet, literary writer." I don't usually try to unlock the mysteries of the shifting writing trends. I almost never write commercial. I write the stories I'm passionate about, and I write them for me as much as I write them for future readers.

    Great post.

  53. @ Jen, I've missed your comments!

    Glad you're a writer and proud of it. I learned a lot from Stephen King's book. It's been my favorite writing book so far.

    @ Jennifer, thanks for following. I like your attitude about writing and publishing. It should be about striving to write the stories we're passionate about.

  54. First of all, I wanna say that I really enjoyed your post in here. Before i started taking writing seriously, about a year ago, I was a nonwriting writer... now, I think I am an against-hi,self-writer. In five years, though, I don't think I'll be a famous writer because by then, I'll be 20.. so maybe in ten years I'll be there with you :)

  55. @ Maha, I hope you stop being a against-self-writer. Good luck with your writing! You're getting a nice early start.

  56. You should add "Successful Writer." That's what I want to be. I don't need to be rich and famous. I just want to be able to consider myself a success, on my terms.

  57. @ Judy, I like "Successful Writer". We needed an in between obscure and famous category. I want to get paid to write. That's it. Good luck getting there!

  58. Why hello, Substituteteacherwoman. haha. I subbed for a couple years and enjoyed it...but found that my skill set was much better suited to lunchlady. ;)

    I was a closet writer, and then forced out of the closet (for very exciting reasons) but to be honest - I long for the closet writing days. Hard to explain, but I suppose I'll adjust and awesome, thought-provoking posts like this one will help me do it. Thanks.

  59. @ Nicki, my name was inspired by a student, who basically likened my job to being like Superman. I'm beginning to question my skill set.

    Now I want to hear your story. Why were you forced (excitedly) out of the closet? I'm glad you found my post thought-provoking.

  60. Obviously I would love to make a living off of writing (what writer wouldn't? you're kidding yourself if you say you're not) but I would be content simply to be published with a somewhat large and devoted fanbase.

    For maybe three years I was a closet writer, and then I blabbed. Now I'm a famous writer. ;]

  61. @ Amanda, I agree. I fessed up to the famous part because how else can I get paid to write to my heart's content.

    You made me laugh with your last line!

  62. I think I've been all of those writers on your list. I started out as the Gung-Ho Writer. And as thirty years passed by, I hit the other ones including Fanfiction Writer on the way to becoming the Make-It-All-Go-Away Writer. And now I'm the I'm-Going-To-Give-It-One-Last-Chance Writer, but I'm going to do it my way by self-publishing.

    Five years from now? I'd like to make enough from my books to cover my business expenses and maybe just a tiny bit more. If I made enough to cover my business expenses and local school taxes, I'd consider myself very lucky indeed.

  63. @ Mary Anne Gruen, you've been many different types of writers. I'm glad you haven't given up yet. Good luck with self-pubishing. I hope you reach your goal.

  64. Wow, those 5 years from now possiblities took me back. Because I immediately thought, what have I accomplished in 5 years? A lot of rough drafts, yes, but not much polishing towards the goal of actually getting published.

    Thanks for the challenge! I do want to be published 5 years from now, or at least a lot further along in the process, not just sort of bumbling along "when I have time".

  65. @ Margo, I feel like that sometimes too. But I have accomplished a lot in the last year. My rough drafts are better. My final drafts are better. I've done a handful of guest posts. I'm entering contests. I may not be published either, but I'm a better writer.

    Let's hope we're both where we want to be in five years.