From the Editor's Desk

6 Awkward Traits that Make You Perfect for Writing

Alright, folks, let’s have a bit of fun. Feeling weird and out-of-place? Wondering if you’re an artistic reject? Considering a massive personality renovation in order to subdue those suspicious and skeptical glances that come your way? Pish-posh, I say! Those, erm, unusual traits are your arsenal of secret weapons as a word-warrior. Here’s what you can tell people when you’ve had enough of the raised eyebrows…

1. Inability to make small talk.

In the writing world, this is called “excellent at writing effective dialogue.” There’s no waste space in a story for the “nice weather” chat with the neighbor, unless it’s passive-aggressive “nice weather” conversation with the neighbor. Your neighbors should be more worried when you point out how warm and sunny it is.

2. Tendency to be invisible in a crowd.

The ability to sit back and observe is key to understanding situational nuance, AKA the little things that bring a moment to life. While other people are doing the daily performance to placate and impress whoever’s looking at them, you’re recording the poignant details of why it doesn’t really work.

3. A subversive life perspective.

A really good story turns the world on its head. It helps to be the kind of person who naturally experiences that inclination on a daily basis. And it helps society to be the kind of person who merely records those inclinations on paper.

4. Disregard for social niceties.

The ability to see beyond the psychological gridlock of etiquette and social constraint is what drives insight into character and personal conflict. People who obey the rules are just using surface compliance to hide their real thoughts anyway. And truthfully, they’d be a lot more entertaining if they quit.

5. No internal chronometer.

This is known in writing as “sense of pacing.” It’s vital to the story that the irrelevant, boring trivia go unmentioned, and only the important and life-changing stuff be included. So, if you are prone to performing 18-hour writing stints and only then realizing you’ve failed to bathe, show up for work or feed yourself since before you began, don’t worry. Unless it’s sex in the tub or a fistfight with the jerk in the next cubicle, that boring life-trivia stuff never makes the page either.

6. Paranoia.

Story creates stakes of life-and-death out of the simplest things. It’s only professional to have an instinct for that.

Now that we’ve had our fun playing to the stereotypes of the suspicious and skeptical, go thou and be the beautiful, thoughtful, well-groomed and creative person that you really are. Good writing to you!

Image by Greg Burkett on Flickr, used under Creative Commons license CC-BY.


7 replies »

  1. Dear Cat,

    I would like to complain in the strongest possible terms about this post. I am a writer and have none of the above traits. Why, just this week I attended a writers’ conference and on the first day I spent a solid eight hours sitting alone in a corner, observing the habits of those around me, and I can honestly say that neither I nor any of the other writers there behaved in the way you describe. Later, during a general discussion, it turned out that everybody else was doing the same thing and came to exactly the same conclusion, which I think proves my point.

    Is this some sort of persecution? If so, then I wish the established society would end so that people like me, and I, can live in peace. A meteor would do the trick, or a giant volcano. Or a virus. Perhaps zombies riding meteors spewing from a giant volcano….

    Anyway, I digress. It is now 3am and I have to go to bed. I’m not sure why, but I think there is something I have to do tomorrow involving a desk and an irate man in a suit.

    I wish you kind regards (which is rather trite, but deemed necessary by society)

    • And that, sir, is why I adore you. LOL

      We’re in the middle of moving, so I’m quite behind in the Complaints Department. You’ll have to take a very long number, I’m afraid. 😀

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