Roles of a Writer: The Laborer

Writers often assume different roles throughout a day and switch between them without needing much thought. A writer can easily move between managing their writing schedules to advertising their work in progress. We might not be adept at every role and we might be exceedingly proficient in another, but each of the roles require development to become well-rounded.

The goal of the Roles of a Writer series is to explore with specificity what primary roles writers assume and to define the responsibilities of the role within the entirety of the process. The goal as a writer be it freelance or otherwise is to be proficient in each role.

The Laborer

The workhorse, the drive which turns the gears, the laborer possesses the majority weight of the job. The goal is executed under the skill and endurance of the laborer and is therefore the primary role of a writer. For a writer, labor means more than working. It includes optimizing productivity as well as a level of analysis of the process.


A writer must write,  and as obvious as that sounds,  many writers don’t sit down to write frequently. They get tied up in other commitments and drawn whatever way the wind blows. A laborer works, a laborer shows up to work everyday because his well being depends on it. A writer must find the commitment and show up to write everyday (or as often as possible). Then the writer must find the persistence to stay at the page despite the feeling of being ground down. A writer must persist.


Distracted working minimizes effectiveness. It’s why many creatives insist on having a designated place to create. In that designated place, the writer can control most distractions and increase productivity. However, productivity is more than eliminating distractions. It is also in optimizing the workplace itself in order to work more effectively. Example: Adam Savage of the Mythbusters fame claimed that when he works he likes to have every tool he’d possibly use within arms reach. The same should be true for the writer and perhaps to an extreme, since we only work on keyboard or pen and paper. References should be readily available, notebooks, journals and other working paper should also be nearby.


Parts of your process will not work. You will find that you are more creative after a freewrite or that you can only write well after diner. These ticks will vary by writer but you will miss them completely if you aren’t fully immersed in your labor. The responsibility of analysis is geared towards improving the project you’re working on, not towards comfort. If you are more creative and relaxed during the evening but would rather relax, it is in your best interest to write anyway.

Viewing this aspect of writing as labor might suggest it being boring or forced but neither of those have to be true. Viewing this role as a labor suggests more that you show up and put in the time. The time aspect is controlled by the manager role of the writer which will be covered next week.

8 thoughts on “Roles of a Writer: The Laborer”

  1. Really appreciate your article. As a fellow writer, I make a point at showing up daily if only for a half hour or so. I have discovered along my journey that there are a lot of people in love with the idea of being a writer… who seldom if ever ‘put the pen to page.’ I find that writing is always a labor although a labor of love bears little weight. Great article. Looking forward to more to come.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. This is really great. Writers have to WORK. It’s such a myth that the writer’s job is an easy one. Inspiration is all well and good, but without ten times more perspiration, nothing we write will ever get off the ground. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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