Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J: Jack-Of-All Trades

J:  In an earlier post I mentioned how my father seemed to know something about everything.  He could fix things, mechanical and building wise, and he could even cook.  I admired him greatly and believe he was part of a disappearing breed.

But as writers, there's also a growing need to become a jack-of-all-trades in the writing business as my father was in his business. 

First and foremost, we must be story tellers.  If there's not a good story, none of the rest matters.  If you write non-fiction, then there must be expert-backed facts written in an appealing voice.  At one time, this first part could be almost enough to make you a success.  But with the competition in today's market, a writer must be so much more.

Even the most clever and witty story teller must able to self-edit.  The basics of grammar and spelling must be followed if a writer wants anyone to look at their work.  At one time, an agent or an editor might work with a great spinner of tales to improve that part of their work.  It's not likely to happen now.  A few mistakes on the first page of manuscript and an agent or editor won't even look at the second page.  A writer must be an editor and a good one at that.  A writer needs others of their ilk to read their prose before they try to get it published and must be willing to return the favor. 

If a writer is fortunate and hard-working enough to be published, more jobs are piled onto their load.  Now they must be a promoter, a publicist, and sometimes it feels like a beggar also.  It has become the writer's job to bring attention to their book.  Sometimes it seems like more hours are spend on this chore than on actual writing. 

Public speaker, appearing at conferences, participating in online opportunities, are all part of promoting your writing, but it is also a satisfies another expectation of the writing business.  Passing on what you learned and being a mentor for those finding their own way through this ever-changing world of writing.

Lastly, a writer must also possess some business sense.  From keeping track of income, expenditures and writing off the kitchen table as your office space on your taxes, just kidding, a writer has to realize they are involved in a business, not just a hobby. 

What job of a writer did I miss?  Do you feel confident about your writing to call yourself a jack-of-all trades?


  1. I practiced almost all kinds of art since my childhood, beginning with painting at my 3, acting and dubbing at my 8, and making music at my 14, finishing the best and oldest academy of fine arts in my country in the end. And I'm a successful book translator now with almost 300 books translated, and as a writer. After all these experiences, and all what I read of your post, I must admit that YOU'RE PERFECTLY RIGHT! I, personally, hold music above all other arts, and secondly, literature and poetry. However, especially while writing, you have to know what you're talking about, regardless to what you write, fiction or non-fiction. A very good point, Susan, and very well worded. Congrats!

  2. Susan, I grew up with a dad who would dabble and put his hands to most things, yet at school we were told that we had to focus on the one career that we would be in until we died....I battled with wanting to do many things, but met people along the way who were content with the one path. I think you have to have many strings to your bow as the world is changing so fast. For me now under the banner of Mixed Media art I can bring together all the things I love doing and more and still find other things that I am interested in trying or feel that is a useful thing to learn. Blessings, Amanda

  3. i write as i talk and through the years there has been many books that did very well, and were also written that same way---but i think you are right for the majority--very informative post!

  4. Terrific post, full of great notions and ideas.

    If you get the chance, pop over to mine. I'm the author of the Bella and Britt series for kids. Would love to see what you think!

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. As a self published author I say yes. I have to pretty much do it all. I do give props to my editor for his help and guidance.

  6. I completely agree with you! I have to do all of those things as a writer/author. It might seem like a lot but it just flows naturally. :)

  7. I think you're absolutely right, the better and better we can do in all these areas, the better our career will be. I think its important too, though, to learn from specialists and get help from people who really know what they're doing. It just adds to the efforts we're already making. Great post!

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)

  8. I think you did a great job covering the bases here!
    Wow, sounds like you really know what you're talking about.

    Thanks, Susan!!

  9. To put it shortly, no. I know I still have a lot of stuff to work on just to make my writing acceptable--never mind the rest! :P

    The Golden Eagle
    The Eagle's Aerial Perspective

  10. I'm really bad at the public speaking bit. I don't always like to bother people which is a slight problem.

  11. Ultimately your job becomes selling yourself.

  12. The times have sure changed from when an author only had to write a good story! :)