We can’t help it; we are innately envious of others around us. It’s natural to want what we can’t — or think we can’t — have. I see this in the workplace all the time. I pray for the day I understand what concept language the developers are speaking, while I simultaneously wish that I could spot tiny, minute details as designers do. However, as I said…envy is natural.
And yet, it seems beyond the realm of possibility that someone could envy me in the same way. Why on earth would anyone envy a writer? Writing is hard work. Writing is frustrating. Writing is lonely. It’s us and our keyboards against the world, left unattended with our thoughts. And yet we persist; writers push through the silence and solitude, creating beauty from nothing at all.
The fact is that writers are unique — complex and simple at the same time, focused and distracted all at once. It can’t be argued; writers are unlike all other professionals. But what is it that makes us so curious? What are the traits that set writers apart?
While it may be a cliché literary pun, it is in fact true. Excellent writers know when and where to read between the lines — to size up content and find both the brilliant and the blah. Writers know what problems to look for and how to fix them. Yet it’s not enough to sit idly by, correcting run-on sentences all day long. We’ll read your story, identify the confusion and offer advice on how to improve it. We will review your speech or lecture and find a way to leave the audience eager for more, prompting action in their minds. The mechanics of language are second nature to us; reading between the lines happens instinctively.
Writers also have a natural inclination for the words and sentences that make people stick around. A great writer knows the methods for getting that marketing email opened, how to craft copy that makes the customer click in the right place and stay there, and, most of all, a great writer knows how important it is to formulate and format compelling content. To put it simply, writers know what works, what doesn’t and how to move forward.
Many professions require problem-solving skills. Engineers, economists, electricians — they, too, are problem solvers. However, writers do it with words. A single sentence can bring so much life into a character. A great closing paragraph can change the reader’s mind entirely about everything that previously happened in the story. In fact, a measly exclamation mark can change the discourse of an entire story!
Writers connect the dots with words. We make sense of complex products, campaigns and concepts with sentences. Structure and reason are created from pure chaos. Words give meaning to how we think and great writers have the ability to shape thinking through the most basic of human functions: language.
The world’s perception of a writer is distorted. Words come naturally, but they don’t always flow as freely as water. In reality, it took me a few weeks just to craft this essay — to piece together my thoughts and reason through my own madness. Writing is hard work, but writing is also play. There’s a delicate balance between logic and emotion that a great and curious writer knows how to find.
We are eager to experiment with new ways of writing and open to stumbling upon accidents — both the good, and the bad. In all of this trial and error, it’s necessary to be cognizant of our craft, always keeping in mind the intent and structure of our writing. Writers are perpetually willing to learn, as each piece is unique in its own way. Our minds are always spinning. Great writers ask plenty of questions while keeping their readers in the back of their minds. We keep sight of the big picture and simultaneously write small, fiery, important details. It requires balance to somehow put together all of these contrasting components of the writing process.
No two people are the same. Yet among writers, there is an unwritten, unifying set of traits. We can read between the lines and are always looking to learn. We’re confident and curious, all at the same time. Writers structure chaos and create even more for ourselves. We work, and play. The world needs more of our gritty and gutsy personalities. The world needs more writers.
So, next time you find yourself sitting at your desk, left alone with your thoughts and your keyboard, remember why you chose this profession to begin with. You’re a writer; you are unique, curious and all around — remarkable.
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