In Others’ Words: Muscle

What does it take to be a writer?

I’m really looking forward to y’all joining the conversation today. Readers, I’d love to know what you think it takes to be a writer — what kind of “muscles” need to be developed?

Writers, author Natalie Goldberg says we need the “muscles” of determination, attention, curiosity, and a passionate heart. What do you think? What other “muscles” have you developed as you travel the writing road?

Me? Writing has helped me developed my eye muscles.

Really.

For me, it’s all about focus. And, yes, I could say it’s about staying focused so that I meet my deadline. But that’s not what I mean. Every day I have to fine tune my focus so that I take my eyes off me (Am I good enough?) and take my eyes off other writers (Are they better than me?) and focus on who I am from an eternal perspective.

In Your Words: What muscle have you developed as a writer? Is there a particular muscle that needs some weight training?

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37 Comments

  1. November 7, 2012, 12:20 am   /  Reply

    I think you and Natalie have come up with some great traits a writer needs, Beth. I certainly need focus. I would add patience, perseverance, and a sense of humor to the list. Strong fingers and wrists are a must, too. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 3:20 pm   /  Reply

      Ah, sense of humor.
      Yes.
      The ability to laugh … at myself, at laugh, at circumstances …

  2. November 7, 2012, 5:29 am   /  Reply

    Oh my brain for sure. Fact checking, puzzle solving. I’m constantly making sure things are plausible. I honestly believe I think more and work things out more in my head than I ever did before.

    I loved that quote!

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 3:21 pm   /  Reply

      Hooray for plausible!!!!
      “If I only had a brain …”

      ๐Ÿ˜‰

  3. November 7, 2012, 6:16 am   /  Reply

    Love this! Agree that you definitely must develop your eye muscle. I’ve developed my patience muscle. I think God looked at me and said, “Pat is short on patience. I think I’ll give her a book to write. That’s ought to develop that muscle.”

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 3:21 pm   /  Reply

      I’ve always loved how you said, “I asked God for patience and He told me to write a book” — or something like that …

  4. November 7, 2012, 6:19 am   /  Reply

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…empathy. I believe to write authentic characters we need to cultivate rich spirits of empathy.
    ~ Wendy

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 3:22 pm   /  Reply

      And you have that spirit of empathy in abundance.

  5. Jeanne
    November 7, 2012, 7:21 am   /  Reply

    I love this, Beth. One of the muscles I’m developing as a writer is the one that helps me depend on God to give me and complete the story He inspired me to write. It’s still pretty weak, but it’s growing a little stronger each day.

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 3:22 pm   /  Reply

      Wonderful insight, Jeanne.

  6. November 7, 2012, 7:49 am   /  Reply

    The muscles of faith that God isn’t misleading me down a deadend road, and belief in myself and my ability, aka courage.

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 3:23 pm   /  Reply

      Courage … and Jessica said a brain … why am I now humming “Follow the Yellow Brick Road?”

      Not to make light of this … because what you say is so true, Elaine.

      I’m just seeing a thread … and a future blog post …

      ๐Ÿ˜‰

      • November 8, 2012, 1:54 am   /  Reply

        Excellent themes, as long as there are no scary monkeys, okay?

        • Beth Vogt
          November 8, 2012, 5:22 am   /  Reply

          ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. November 7, 2012, 8:39 am   /  Reply

    My heart…dealing with rejections isn’t easy, but my heart’s desires are more important than the barbs rejection tries to deal me.

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 3:23 pm   /  Reply

      Amen, Lindsay.
      Amen.

  8. Roxanne Sherwood Gray
    November 7, 2012, 8:47 am   /  Reply

    Love all the muscles that have been mentioned, along with other body parts. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I’m going to cheat too. Thick skin: to keep pursuing the dream, even when you receive unkind reviews, negative feedback and outright rejection.

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 3:24 pm   /  Reply

      Isn’t our skin our biggest body organ?
      Great answer, Roxanne.

  9. November 7, 2012, 9:12 am   /  Reply

    Beth,
    Great question. I read your post, and the comments that followed, and nodded and nodded again. All of the above. I think my TRUSTER is being strengthened – leaning not on my own strength, but on God’s.

    Charles Spurgeon, in his devotional yesterday, reminded us that a will has no power until the testator (the one whose will it is) dies. Isn’t that true in our walk as believers? There is no power in my own will. I must die to self so that HIS will in me can be fulfilled. But then, I have to trust Him to see me through…..

    As a pastor friend says, “If He calls you, He WILL enable you.” Period. I just have to trust Him.

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 3:24 pm   /  Reply

      Just where is the “Truster” muscle located, Becky?

  10. November 7, 2012, 9:19 am   /  Reply

    Self-discipline! A mental muscle I’m in serious need of… ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 3:25 pm   /  Reply

      Agreed.
      Not that you need it — but that I do.

  11. November 7, 2012, 9:20 am   /  Reply

    Seeing and hearing.
    So I can “show”.

    How do I see the sounds I hear?
    I’ve had to learn how to interpret what I hear for my deaf in-laws. They must be able to see me describe what they cannot hear. That has been a really excellent way to learn how to draw a scene.

    How do I hear what my eyes are telling me?
    Then I do the opposite, I close my eyes and tell myself what I see, so I can show it to my readers.

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 3:25 pm   /  Reply

      Brilliant insights, Jennifer.
      Brilliant.

  12. November 7, 2012, 9:53 am   /  Reply

    Eye muscles definitely, Beth! And I agree with the others that we need patience — lots of it. Not just patience to wait for publication but patience to sit, day after day, and crank out and then polish 80,000+ words. I would add courage. Courage to follow the story wherever it goes. Courage to persist in the story and not worry about what others think. Courage to boldly go where no one has gone before! (Sorry. Couldn’t resist. Would this be a bad time to mention that split infinitive?)

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 3:26 pm   /  Reply

      ๐Ÿ™‚
      I never edit comments, Meghan.
      Well, I’ve been known to fix misspelled words.

  13. November 7, 2012, 10:16 am   /  Reply

    Love this post! I’ve developed my listening muscles. I can’t be anywhere, at lunch, in the mall, at a movie…without listening to and gleaning interesting bits from the conversations around me.

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 3:26 pm   /  Reply

      Writers = eavesdroppers.
      Yes, indeed.

  14. Loree Huebner
    November 7, 2012, 11:08 am   /  Reply

    I’m on board with the eye muscles.

    Also, patience and perseverance.

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 4:42 pm   /  Reply

      We all need to work out together, right, Loree?

  15. November 7, 2012, 11:51 am   /  Reply

    Curiosity and caring about/being really interested in people, plus an eye for detail.

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 4:44 pm   /  Reply

      Curiosity — I like that, Dee.

  16. November 7, 2012, 11:56 am   /  Reply

    “Every day I have to fine tune my focus so that I take my eyes off me (Am I good enough?) and take my eyes off other writers (Are they better than me?) and focus on who I am from an eternal perspective.” I absolutely love this and I’m happy to see it in writing. I need to read it daily. Thank you.

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 4:44 pm   /  Reply

      Kim,
      So glad you were encouraged.
      Funny, I needed this post today … isn’t God good that way?

      ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. November 7, 2012, 1:06 pm   /  Reply

    Heart muscle here. And probably all of the above. I need to know God’s heart and how it has impacted me before I can translate it to words on a page for my audience.

    Jeanne Doyon

    • Beth Vogt
      November 7, 2012, 4:45 pm   /  Reply

      Love this response, Jeanne. Only as we recognize God’s fingerprints in our own lives can we share how He’s influenced us with others.

  18. November 8, 2012, 11:53 am   /  Reply

    I love your wise words, Beth. Perseverance and patience are musts for me, especially when life happens.

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