Writers are Observers of Life

“Writers are observers of life” is not original with me. In fact, I’ve heard it so often, I’m not sure who deserves credit for saying it. But I do know it’s true.

Writers observe the world around them, then use words to capture those observations.

Readers relate to those observations and, the more they relate, the more popular the writer becomes.

How does that apply to book writing? By opening yourself to seeing the world around you and by making notes, collecting stories, and being a literary packrat, you can add so much to your writing.

Maybe you base a character on someone memorable you saw. Maybe you include a joke you heard from a friend. Maybe there’s a story in the news that can illustrate a point (last post I used one about a woman stealing songs). You limit yourself, so break down the barriers and draw on life to improve your writing.

Of course, you’ll write in your own style, but when you have a world full of sources to draw upon, you’ll do a much better job of connecting with your reader. And that’s really what makes a book a success–connecting with readers so they tell other readers and the viral marketing creates a following for your book and for you, the author.

When I was heavily involved in my professional speaking career, the old joke in the industry was “Steal from one source and it’s plagiarism. Steal from many sources and it’s research.”

So, go ahead and take what you can use–just make sure you make it your own by using your own words, observations, and writing style.

Happy writing!

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4 Responses to “Writers are Observers of Life”


  1. 1 courtneykane April 28, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I totally agree that writers observe and document life and I sometimes wonder if we can/should ever write anything that doesn’t come from direct experience. ??

    • 2 expertbookpublishing April 29, 2010 at 10:58 am

      Good question. People do write things that don’t come from their direct experience all the time. One doesn’t have to look further than current events, history books, textbooks, fiction, children’s books (every seen an animal talk in words?), etc. to see examples. If a writer doesn’t have direct experience in a topic, the next option is research. That may beg the question, “What counts as research?”

      I challenge my students with that question to get them thinking beyond written documentation. Types of research include (but are not limited to) interviews, reading, conducting experiments, surveys, etc. Of course, everyone doing research should set up the criteria for deciding whether or not a resource is credible. Anyone can say anything–even more so today with the Internet and blogs and social media. But when you put your name as author, you are ultimately responsible for the accuracy of what you write.

      Thanks for asking the question.

  2. 3 papertigerpress May 14, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    I like what Ray Bradberry said,”Don’t ignore the great grain silos of stuff tucked away in your head.” (I paraphrase of course) but it is true and we should all step out and use it. The earliest childhood memory, that song your grandmother sang, the sunset after a long day, a teacher, a bully, it’s all there waiting. Great post!


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