My Manifesto: Take Two

A few years back, I wrote a manifesto. According to, a manifesto is, “a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives, as one issued by a government, sovereign, or organization.” Wow. Pretty weighty stuff in hindsight.

Anyway, my public declaration was called, “Poetry is not for the classroom.” And it was weighty, indeed. In the act of writing it, I actually felt a sense of nobility that with a simple royal wave I might bestow poetry upon the masses. It was sumptuous.

I still love that manifesto and still embrace it. However, I am in a bit of a different place now – less royal, more common man, if you will. I write every day – for work, for personal journaling, for connection with friends. But now it’s more like plowing the field than swooning about the “rosy-fingered dawn of time.” (Though I do still swoon from time to time.)

I suppose if I were to write a manifesto now, I’d drop the “o” at the end. It would be more about making this whole writing business manifest, i.e. “clear or evident to the eye or the understanding” (thanks again,!).

Way back in the days before blogging, before the Internet, before cell phones, I went to college. Eons ago, in a land before time itself, I wanted to be a thing called, “A Writer.” One college break I was visiting with my dad, and I told him of my lofty goal. Apparently I was not clear in my noble intent, as he forthwith handed me a notepad and pen and instructed me to write down directions to my grandmother’s house.

At that time I was fairly devastated because he missed the heart of my desire. Thirty plus years later, on the other side of this thing we call “Middle Age(s)”, I feel a tender spot for my dad in his practical application of my dream. I also see that I failed to make manifest for my father what I meant and what a writer actual does. I think that’s mainly because I didn’t know.

So, here’s a delayed response for my dad, and for anyone else who might want to know what writers do, my intent made manifest. What I can now say from experience is this: writers actually do many things on a regular basis that may look remarkably like what anyone else might do every other day. There is no cookie cutter job description, but there are patterns. Maybe you recognize some of them?


  1. Turn symbols (letters, punctuation, marks) into meaning
  2. Report facts
  3. Tell bald-faced lies
  4. Inspire
  5. Rabble-rouse
  6. Observe and record
  7. Reflect upon the not-so-obvious
  8. Expose the hidden
  9. Enlighten
  10. Rhyme
  11. Alliterate
  12. Numerate
  13. Make fun
  14. Surmise
  15. Document
  16. Abbreviate
  17. Expand upon
  18. Narrate
  19. Create new worlds
  20. Record dialog
  21. Explain
  22. Theorize
  23. Instruct
  24. Cheerlead
  25. Hunker down
  26. Rewrite
  27. Defend
  28. Offend
  29. Confuse
  30. Delight
  31. Repel
  32. Attract
  33. Sell
  34. Pretend
  35. Plot
  36. Resurrect
  37. Reassure
  38. Motivate
  39. Lecture
  40. Plan
  41. Set goals
  42. Drink coffee
  43. Blog
  44. Influence
  45. Enrage
  46. Spoof
  47. Mock
  48. Love
  49. Make books
  50. Make money
  51. Edit
  52. Polish doorknobs (move commas)
  53. Enhance
  54. Scheme
  55. Cast a vision
  56. Explicate
  57. Remember
  58. Explore
  59. Move
  60. Connect
  61. Change minds
  62. Change the world
  63. Indulge
  64. Alienate
  65. Perform
  66. Make art
  67. Leave a legacy
  68. Seek understanding
  69. Entertain
  70. Gain wisdom
  71. Look foolish
  72. Feed the publishing monster
  73. Nurture
  74. Give hope
  75. Paint word pictures
  76. Point
  77. Direct
  78. Ideate
  79. Move on
  80. Confess
  81. Rebel
  82. Rejoice
  83. Reject
  84. Meet deadlines
  85. Fill pages
  86. Create expectations
  87. Enable
  88. Give life to characters
  89. Kill off darlings
  90. Populate fictional lands
  91. Encourage
  92. Discourage
  93. Castigate
  94. Participate
  95. Sit down (butt in seat)
  96. Get up (get more coffee)
  97. Submit work for appraisal
  98. Try
  99. Try again

If you consider yourself a writer, how would you round out this list to 100?


Late Breaking Update (3/16/16):

Subscribe to our email list and get a cool downloadable poster of “101 Things Writers Do” (which includes the two additions shared in comments below!):


Image by Javier Villarreal via

8 Replies to “My Manifesto: Take Two”

  1. Interesting post, thanks for sharing and writing this. I like what you’re saying here, Kelly: “I suppose if I were to write a manifesto now, I’d drop the “o” at the end. It would be more about making this whole writing business manifest”

    100. Read

      1. Thanks for asking. 🙂 I’ve got bookmarks in: A Swiftly Tilting Planet, Where the Sky Opens, Emily Climbs, and The Artist’s Way. How about you, Kelly?

      2. Bethany, I just finished reading Big Magic (E. Gilbert), and currently am reading through a Clive Cussler novel (Piranha) and a collection of Marge Piercy’s poetry.

  2. I agree with Bethany, Kelly: “read”, although I think that should be no. 1, since what writer isn’t first a reader? :- )

    I recently started a group called the Pennington Writers & Readers Collective, and the common thread that ties us together is “revel”: whether reading or writing, we all seem to revel in language. Maybe revel should be added to your list?

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