What Has Writing Taught the Seven Sinister Sisters?

Edith here, delighted to host the Seven Sinister Sisters, a group I joined up with this winter and spring. We are seven authors with new books coming out, and we’ve been guest blogging all over cyberspace since January. You can see where we’ve been and where we’re still scheduled on our Facebook page. Commenters here today will be entered into our grand giveaway!

Seven Sinister Sisters

For today’s post I asked my sisters this question: What has writing taught you? Here are our answers in no particular order.

Becky Clark: Gosh, where to start? All the obvious ones: work ethic, self-discipline, organization, finish what you start. But also writing has given me a pretty thick skin. Don’t get me wrong, negative reviews always sting, but writing has taught me that everyone has different likes and dislikes. I’m sure I always knew that, but when you mostly hang out with your like-minded husband, kids or kids-in-law, you forget that not everyone has, say, your weird sense of humor, or sees what you were trying to do with your writing. I’ve learned not to take things too personally.

Sue Star: 1. Discipline—I can’t not write.  Even when I’m on vacation I write every day, even if it’s only a paragraph.  2.  Passion—if I don’t feel that burning desire to dig into a project, it’s not worth doing.  Passion is the magic footprint that makes a story sparkle.  3.  Instinct—I’ve learned to trust my instincts about a story. Then “magic” happens, and a story ends up writing itself.  4.  Art—I’ve learned that I can paint, too.  No matter the form, creativity is all about the journey, not necessarily the destination.

Pat Hale: Writing has taught me not to take things personally. In my early days of writing when I received a rejection, it would take days to get over the disappointment and self-doubt. I’ve learned that rejections are not personal and they’re often the best way to learn. After the initial disappointment (still happens, but doesn’t last as long), I remind myself that the editor/agent isn’t rejecting me, but telling me I need to work harder and make my work better. Not personalizing rejection has been a hard learned but excellent lesson that has carried over into every area of my life.

Shawn McGuire: Writing has taught me to be more present in life. I think I notice things more, partly because my writer’s brain is always looking for details, partly because I’m naturally nosey. Part of noticing more means understanding people better. There’s a reason why people are the way they are—whether they’re simply having a bad day or because something happened in their life to make them a curmudgeon. Writing makes me dig down to uncover those reasons. I feel like I’m more understanding of most people, less tolerant of others.

Leslie Karst: That even when a task seems terribly daunting—such as composing an eighty thousand-word manuscript—if you simply keep at it, following through with the process step by step (or page by page), before long you will have finished. Completing the first draft of the manuscript that became my first Sally Solari culinary mystery (Dying for a Taste) was an incredibly powerful confidence builder, both for my writing career and for my life in general. Reaching that goal is all about perseverance and follow-through, and about having a belief in yourself.

Cathy Perkins: The first thing writing taught me was patience! Not just the waiting to hear from agents, editors, and reviewers, but the patience to learn the craft. To not be in a rush to publish before the story is ready for prime time.  Equally important though, writing has shown me how generous the author community is. I’ll never forget how kind and inclusive Sophia Littlefield, Nicole Peeler and Janet Reed were at my first Malice – my first conference and my debut novel. Talk about nervous! They set the bar I’ve tried to reach in helping other authors in this crazy place we call publishing.

Edith Maxwell: For me, being a writer has taught me that I have to show up every morning and write, but also that I have to trust the story enough to let it float sometimes. I’ve learned the value of discipline, and much of writing is in fact hard work. I also now know I can’t control everything. Characters occasionally take their sweet time revealing what comes next or why they acted the way they did.

Readers: What has your occupation, favorite hobby, or pastime taught you?


Our next stop on the tour is April 3 on the Killer Characters blog. Here’s where you can find each of us in the meantime:








To celebrate our new releases, the Seven Sinister Sisters are having a giveaway!

Seven lucky winners will receive an ebook from one of us.

One GRAND PRIZE winner will receive a signed copy from each of us!

Enter to win by leaving a comment. Our tour runs from January 6th to April 30th and we’re answering a different question at each blog. Leave a comment at every blog for more entries! We’ll draw the winner from the combined comments at the end of our tour.Tour graphic Seven Sinister Sisters



53 Thoughts

  1. Reviewing books has taught me to just do the next thing. Back to the 11,123 emails and the still 36 past-due ARCs. sigh

  2. I was a radiologic technologist at a mental health facility for 41 years. It taught me patience and how to deal with many types of personalities and behaviors. Happy Easter to all!

  3. Knitting has taught me patience and the understanding that even a little bit gets you closer to the final product!

    1. So true! The tangible part of knitting (and sewing, painting, etc) is such a reward! Maybe handwritten pages would give the same sense of accomplishment?

  4. Breaking down any task into small bits makes it much less daunting. And one gets a rewarding shot of dopamine after every small bit is done. The answer to how to live happily on a natural high.

  5. I love the blog on what writing has taught you. I am currently working on two books, both of them taking way different turns, but for the first book, my first book ever I might add, it has been 5 years of writing. I get that writers block and do not know where the book should go next. So patience is something I really need to learn. I am glad I am not the only one.

    1. Diane, I keep this quote taped over my desk: “If this were real, with what the character knows, with what he/she is capable of, what could he/she do next?” It helps me figure out where the book should go next, and maybe it will help you, too. Good luck!

  6. Teaching taught me that I am a minister–which is to help students (in the words of Matthew Arnold) “make the best ideas prevail” and to promote understanding and acceptance among diverse populations through literature–I developed minority literature and women’s literature courses in a conservative religious school–and introduced the relationship of the Gospels to LGBTQ concerns in talks to faculty.

  7. I think that the statements each and every one of you have stated about what writing has taught you are great attributes to be applied to everyone’s life like patience, be present in the here and now, and discipline to name just a few.

    I love just about anything that deals with the kitchen – bake, cook, grill, and yes even clean up. It’s a way to express my creative side and to experiment. I can discipline myself to stick to the tried and true recipe by following directions or I can take an old recipe and change it around to fit the tastes of those I’m feeding whether it’s to make it sugar free or adding an ingredient I know they love. I’ve learned that having a passion for something makes what others see as work as relaxing and fun. As in life, you have to be patient because it takes time and work to get to the end results. You have to stay in the here and now by not worrying about that time you messed up and you can’t be complacent just because you’ve made it a zillion times because if you make a mistake this may be the time the recipe flops.

    Thanks for the wonderful chance to some amazing books from totally awesome authors! Wish I could invite all of you over for some bounty from my kitchen. <3
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. I’d love to sample your bounty, Kay. Thanks for your kind words. When I was on vacation recently and not working except noodling a short story, my book kept knocking at my brain. I took it as a sign that I’m in the job I’m supposed to be – I couldn’t wait to get back to work!

    2. Creativity in the kitchen. Yes to this! When I still had a day job and had a bad day, all I’d want to do is come home and bake something. My confidence was higher in the kitchen than at the job, so I knew I’d have something good happen that day. (We won’t talk about those times when even the kitchen didn’t work for me!!)

  8. Great lessons, ladies. Writing has taught me that I’m not in control of everything – not really. And sometimes (often times) that’s okay!

  9. So interesting how many of us have been taught patience and discipline by our writing or other vocations. But it also makes me wonder if perhaps we already had patience and discipline, which is why we chose those vocations, or at least why we’ve been successful at them.

  10. From writing reviews, I’ve learned that you do get better with practice. From ultimate Frisbee, I’ve learned that everything can contribute, some more than others, and that’s okay.

  11. I’ve learned over a long work life for a very large company that most people can be a little crazy, but sometimes that challenge also makes them interesting and dedicated.

  12. My job has taught me patience. It’s also taught me that what I see as a priority & needs to be taken care of NOW, is not always as important to others.

  13. In anything I do I have learned not to allow the ‘rabbit trails’ to distract me. If it is something important I need to write it down so I can come back to it after I have finished what I am working on currently. I do better is I can focus on one thing at a time.

  14. Thanks all for the thoughtful and honest responses. Writing has also taught me that there are wonderful people to connect with right at my fingertips.

  15. Those are all very interesting answers. Some I would expect, especially about work ethic or time management, since it is a solitary profession or one you start when you still have another job. Also thought the comment about being more present was interesting.

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