Good Things

PhotobucketAs a writer, it’s all too easy to focus on what’s going wrong. You can’t wrench the plot into shape; the deadline is looming and you have a million tasks to juggle; your publisher or agent doesn’t believe in your beloved project; your computer died; the dog ate your manuscript. Or you are struggling with a lack of self-belief. The life of a writer is potholed with angst. We sometimes need a reality check in order not to wallow in it.

After a week of emotional highs and lows, I decided I would make a list of the good things about being a full time writer. I plan to take this out and look at it every time I catch myself whining about how hard it all is during the busy year ahead. I figure the good bits must outweigh the bad. We love writing, don’t we? If we didn’t, why would we keep on doing it? Here’s my list:

Juliet’s good things about being a writer, in no particular order:

– Being your own boss; being in control
– Managing your own work time
– Being able to work more or less anywhere: inside, outside, on a plane, in a café, in bed
– Being paid to dream
– Access to caffeine at all times while working
– Tax-deductible research travel
– Characters who spring to life and surprise you on the page
– Being able to live in more than one world
– Continuing to learn and grow through your work
– Serendipitous discoveries that spark off brilliant new ideas (often made in unlikely places, such as the pages of a dusty research book or the aisles of a supermarket)
– Sharing your stories, characters and ideas with readers; communicating something worthwhile; touching others
– Losing yourself in the story, like Alice down the rabbit hole
– Felicitous moments in the writing – the bits you revisit, thinking, “Did I really write that? Wow!”
– The satisfaction (tinged with sorrow, as it’s a goodbye) of finishing a ms
– The thrill of starting a new project
– Sharing your work chair with a dog – who wouldn’t want that small, warm presence guarding her back?
– Last but not least, earning a living doing something you really love despite all the bad parts.

What are your good things about being a writer?



About Juliet Marillier

Juliet Marillier has written nineteen novels for adults and young adults as well as a collection of short fiction. Her works of historical fantasy have been published around the world, and have won numerous awards. Juliet's new novel, Tower of Thorns, will be published in October/November 2015. Tower of Thorns is the second book in the Blackthorn & Grim series of historical fantasy/mysteries for adult readers. The first Blackthorn & Grim novel, Dreamer's Pool, is available from Roc US and Pan Macmillan Australia.


  1. says

    After a lifetime of being told I had an overactive imagination and should just focus on what I was supposed to be doing at the time, I am doing what I’m supposed to be doing.

    And I get to make stuff up for a living.

    One more thing–getting to read great books and calling it research. LOL.

  2. Ivy says

    Thank you for this, Juliet! About halfway through a project I start thinking I’m writing the worst book ever, this career is just like having perpetual homework anyway–and isn’t there a movie on that I could be watching instead?? But I watch some awful movie with bad dialogue, find myself thinking how I would have re-written it, and realize writing and I are perhaps stuck with one another.

    I love the concept of a list, though! My favorite on yours is “Felicitous moments in the writing – the bits you revisit, thinking, “Did I really write that? Wow!” It’s wonderful writing somethign that works so well!

  3. says

    I love several of these and the wonder of what I do is rarely lost on me (especially when I’m on cup of coffee number five and I’m still not out of pjs).

    I love having a job that is one word. So not like “Secondary Stock Grungy Analyst Specializing in Pig Futures and Car Wax” but Writer.

    I love that the weirdness I dream is actually useful.

    I love that I never think about the connection between work and getting paid. I’ve quit any job I ever had where I worked how much I was getting paid a minute and was using that knowledge to get myself through the next minute.

    I love that there are worlds inside worlds inside me — and that it’s my JOB to explore them, describe them, realize them.

  4. says

    I agree with Francesca that “Writer” has a wonderful ring to it. Simple and powerful.

    I love that we’re able to evolve a rough idea into a polished story through dedicated hard work.

  5. says

    “Last but not least, earning a living doing something you really love despite all the bad parts.”

    Ah, thanks for the reminder, Juliet. It’s super easy to focus on the negatives, but honestly, who doesn’t admire the writers of the world? It’s a dream job.

  6. says

    I’ve been lucky enough to write a few scripts that have been turned into movies and it’s pretty neat to see an actor act out your scene. But it’s really cool when you’re sitting in a dark theatre and people actaully laugh at something your wrote. In fact it’s even pretty neat when your jokes bomb and no one laughs at a joke you wrote that you thought was hilarious.

  7. says

    When I was a pre-schooler (and, if I’m honest, for several years thereafter)I had pretend friends. I did nothing else, all day long, but play out imaginary situations with one or more of my “‘tend girls”. I remember a lady on the bus asking who I played with and I replied with a shrug “my ‘tend girls”.

    “Ten girls?” The woman almost shrieked the words. “Oh, your poor mother!”

    Well, now I play all day long with pretend friends and no one thinks it at all strange – at least, not if they are writers, too!:-)

  8. says

    Super list! My faves — not being stuck in drive-time traffic on the way to the office down the hall from my bedroom; being able to work in my jammies; and best of all, actually having spent the past 26 yrs getting paid to tell people stories? (Which I’ll do for free in conference hotel bars.) Priceless!

  9. Amanda Bosky says

    Hi Juliet,

    I just wanted to let you know that the Palm Beach County Library System staff have compiled their annual Favorite Book lists and your book “Wildwood Dancing” is on our Young Adults list! This bibliography appears on our website:

    And it is also distributed in print form at all our libraries throughout Palm Beach County.

    Just thought you’d like to know. :)

    –Amanda Bosky
    Librarian Trainee
    Wellington Branch Library