What trait does every successful writer possess?


The blog Writing in a Dead World posted this funny list last week, and it got me wondering, what DOES every serious writer need? Is there one trait that is shared by all successful writers?

The list probably comes close when it says that every writer needs a passion for words — though I’ll bet some writers have a stronger passion for ideas, emotional openness, or instruction than they do for those pesky little delivery systems known as diction and syntax.

Maybe the common thread for writers who’ve been able to sustain successful careers is some mixture of persistence, stubbornness, and delusion. They have to believe, often in the face of much indifference or criticism, that what they’re writing is important enough to one day command the attention of readers.


What do you think? Despite all the differences in temperament, topic, genre, and style, is there a single quality that all good writers must possess? Let me know your take in the comments below.

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Chris Robley is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."


  1. Discipline. The word of a task master forcing one to do the task of writing. That was my immediate head response when wondering about the one quality every writer must possess. Quickly following was the softer voice from the heart….Balance. The quality is balance. The enormity of carrying a message to such as large an audience today takes the finesse of a Barnum & Bailey Circus plate spinner. Keeping all life’s plates spinning long enough to get published… now that is truly something to marvel.


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