IWSG #55: I Want to be a Diverse Writer

This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.



What are five objects we’d find in your writing space?

Coffee, bobble-head Groot, dog treats, pen, and notepad


  J.H. MoncrieffTonja DreckerPatsy Collins | Chrys Fey!

i’M NOT GOOD AT Diverse writing BUT i want to learn:

I read about diversity all over the place. And I support all people of any belief system, orientation, challenge and heritage. I won’t refer to the news (although I just have) for the reasons I want to write about all types of people.

I’m a person of love. I wish everyone was.

I don’t want to hurt or offend anyone. In my clumsy way of learning, I’m afraid of offending someone or being misquoted in some hateful way.  

I’m  not a weapon.

That said, it’s time to put on my big-girl pants.

I’m asking for VOLUNTEERS to correct me:

  • I need training to use the right words
  • I need to see where I go wrong and how to fix it
  • I need to be able to fail so I can succeed
  • I’m already sensitive but I need to see through another’s eyes

I’m white in non-diverse community and have no idea what I’m doing but doing it anyway. Let’s put some diversity on the page and widen our minds.

Thanks for the support.

Some Reading For All of Us:


98 responses to “IWSG #55: I Want to be a Diverse Writer

  1. I wish everyone was a person of love as well. While I’m against hurting or offending people (deliberately), sometimes the words of a (non-fiction) writer can be strong as this is part of their voice. I’m not the most sensitive writer, being straightforward (and European) and sometimes a bit critical (in regards to myself and others), but that’s part of my story…

    • That’s also where I live unless I pull back and tread carefully. This will be a huge learning curve. And for some reason I don’t completely understand, I’m driven to try. 🙂

  2. I admire your goal of learning about diversity. Yes, you will open yourself up to much criticism if you get it wrong. You’re a brave person. It looks like you have gotten a good start on your research evidenced by your long list of sites to visit. Wishing you all the best with this project!

  3. I feel that many are too thin-skinned, demanding I go out of my way not to offend them, while not being concerned in the least with being offensive to me about my lack of discernment. Write in love and respect for the individuals in your novel, and you will not stray far. Above all read authors who excel in writing well in diverse settings and learn from them. Best of luck, Roland

  4. I have a Groot in my office where I write too, though he’s been moved to my other desk.

    I think it’s fantastic to work toward diversity. I try to keep in mind various sensitivities while also portraying characters how they are in the story. The key is to listen and learn from people different from us.

  5. Roland has good advice. Read authors who have rocked diverse characters. They’ll help give you an idea, but of course, research and talking to people will help also.

  6. I’ve connected with some ‘diverse’ writers on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1568078209905276/ – as I’m a male WASP trying to write a police procedural with a queer (lesbian) protagonist. I’m grateful for their help and your links. I’m also interested in characters with disabilities as I’m now in a wheelchair.

  7. This is great! My sister and I frequently have conversations about our fear of incorporating diversity in a way that’s unitentionally offensive because we just have no experience in it. But we don’t want to add to the problem of only white stories either! So this is a great idea.

  8. This is a great way to find sensitivity readers. I found sensitivity readers by making a poster and putting it up at my library. That might work, too. 🙂 Or kijiji/craiglist in the volunteer sections. That worked for me, too. 🙂 Good luck!

  9. Good luck with your new learning experience. I hope you learn bunches. Yeah, I know that was bad grammar. lol.

  10. That’s a smart way to do it – reach out and ask for help.

  11. I love how open your headings are. A person of love, seeking out help for diversity and language. Raimey had some great suggestions. I wouldn’t have thought of volunteers. Happy holidays my friend and I wish you the best of luck 🙂

  12. I usually have coffee in my writing space as well. Hot or iced, doesn’t matter. 🙂

  13. I think it’s good to challenge yourself and I wish you all the best
    sherry @ fundinmental

  14. I try to be diverse in my writing. Where I live used to be extremely white, but now its a cultural soup. It’s pretty awesome. There happens to be bobble head Scorpius on my desk. I love to watch him nod approvingly while I’m torturing my characters. I’d imagine Groot is a bit more friendly.

  15. Christine Rains

    It’s great that you’re working on your diversity sensitivity. I’m lucky to have a diverse group of beta readers who correct me on every little detail.

  16. I have a Groot as well. He’s the dancing one. LOL

    As for the diversity thing, it’s great to read authors that *include* diversity but you have to also read *diverse* authors and that’s 2 very different takes. It’s not the first time I’ve head the comment of being scared to offend. I have a writer friend who said the same thing in relation to writing non-white characters and I pointed out she had no issues writing gay males. She could show them with love and respect without falling into stereotypes, why would it be so hard when it came to adding in characters of other races. I am a woman of color, I write a variety of characters. Fundamentally we are all the same. Getting help is a great thing, and just go into it with the same approach you would any other character. Fairly, honestly, and with love of them has a whole person outside of their diversity.

  17. Not a coffee person; I get my caffeine kick from soda or chai.

  18. Nnedi Okorafor’s amazing Binti series is the greatest argument for #weneeddiversebooks I’ve ever read.

  19. Nice idea. It’s important to know/understand our own perceptions. great idea to get readers to check for you! 🙂
    I really wish the world had more people of love as well!

  20. This is something I think about and struggle with too. I write science fiction, and I don’t want to fall into the trap of writing a future that’s populated almost entirely by white men (i.e. people who look like me).

  21. Good for you on wanting to expand! Such paths always help us grow. Good luck!

  22. I’ve always got a beverage on my desk – water, coffee, tea, wine – depending upon the appropriate time of the day. (and as we all know, it’s always 5:00 somewhere)

  23. Great job. I think this is an awesome goal. I have lots of diversity in my books, but it just happened that way–it wasn’t planned. I’m always afraid of offending someone, but so far it hasn’t happened. I think if you’re a sensitive person who cares about this sort of thing, it’s less likely to happen. (I should say I haven’t offended anyone with the diversity in my books–I’ve offended people plenty with other things.)

    I have had some reviewers (always Caucasian) tell me Jackson, my protagonist, doesn’t “sound black,” like he needs to talk street or sing hip-hop to be African-American. It’s a bit ridiculous.

    Good luck finding sensitivity readers! I really struggled to find a Native American reader for “Those Who Came Before” and I paid good money. I finally did find one, but I suspect he was too nice to me.

    • Just because a person is of color doesn’t mean they kept their heritage. I’ve lost so much of my Russian traditions it saddens me. So cook and hold on that way. 🙂

  24. Kudos to you for wanting to learn and for your goal of writing diverse characters as well. I admire your spirit. It seems there are so many on social media nowadays who want to hurt and offend and it’s great to see the polar opposite in your post. Good luck with your writing and learning!

  25. You know what, I think I’ve been desensitized to nearly everything. It hasn’t been until this past decade where my husband points out stuff that I should be unaccepting of and offended by. I’m a double minority and fit squarely into several stereotypes that I’ve simply grown apathetic about others’ behavior and no longer notice it. But it has made a difference in my awareness when it comes to writing. Like you, I want to branch out and do justice to what I’m representing. I’ll definitely check out the links you provided!

    • I remember thinking 48 Hours was funny when it first came out. I tried to watching recently and was offensive. It was then I realized how far the world has moved forward.

      But we still have a long way to go. 🙂

  26. What a great way to keep yourself on track. I’m willing to help if that help doesn’t have to come before the end of 2018!

  27. I’m glad you’re making this effort. You’ll make mistakes along the way, Anna, but don’t be afraid to write diversely–whatever that means to you. I’m planning stories with characters of different races and cultures, since the stories place in New York, where I’m from. And even though I’m used to diversity, I find that the details of a language or culture are what make a character ring true and those details come from experience and reading and friends and asking questions.

    I’d say start with reading books by diverse authors, especially Own Voices authors.

  28. I am a diverse reader, while I don’t think you will get everything right, I love the effort to do so.

  29. A cup of hot tea is like my blanket while I’m writing. My lens as a writer in terms of diversity comes from my experiences growing up a Navy Brat between California and the deep south. I

    I’ve lived in both the poorest and richest part of the country. Living now in San Francisco, I attempt to juxtapose the two. I try to keep my my reading list as diverse as possible. I highly recommend Exit West by Mohsin Hamid.

  30. Are you active on Facebook? If so, check out the Writers for Diversity FB group. There’s much help there for writers in search of sensitivity readers and insight into other points of view/cultures.

  31. It’s all in the trying and the open heart filled with love.

    I am Groot

  32. Research is a key component of writing diversity well. That, and a heart to learn. Sounds like you’ve got both going on! @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  33. That’s an admirable goal. Treating everyone the way we want to be treated is a keystone in almost any religion. And it just common sense. Being aware is a great first step. Wishing you a great month.

  34. Good luck finding diverse voices to help you out. It’s a great idea to try.

  35. If only there were more ‘people of love’ like you, Anna, the world would be a better place! 🙂

  36. Angela Wooldridge

    Groot sounds cool, as does Meka’s advice.

  37. Thanks for stopping by my blog. It meant a lot.
    I love your approach to educating yourself by being honest and asking for help. Just by doing that you’ve already paved the way for success.
    The one thing to keep in mind, though, is that if your main goal is not to offend, you will fail. People have an amazing ability to be offended by trivial things. If, however, you simply want to portray diverse characters with dignity and respect, I’d say you’ve got this. Like J.H. Moncrieff, I’ve often been accused of not writing believable black characters even though I am black. I write characters that are like me, but I guess I’m not stereotypical enough for some. Those people aren’t my audience. You obviously have an honest and open heart for all people. I’m sure that will be reflected in your writing. Best of luck in this endeavor.

    • Thanks. I start with characters that don’t have faces. As I write they, tend to come into focus.

      Up until recently, if I felt I’d offend someone I tweaked the character into someone else.

      That stops starting now. A team effort will give me the confidence to do it right. 🙂

  38. I didn’t know who Groot was until recently – he’s adorable 🙂

    Thanks for sharing links about diversity and writing. I’m very interested in checking them out.

  39. No dogs here, but we have plenty of cats. But I don’t keep cat treats at my desk because if I did, the cats would bother me every time I sat down to write.

  40. It’s amazing how many times dog and cats have been mentioned as writing companions. I have a cat who occasionally decides to take a stroll across my laptop!

  41. Sensitivity. What a wonderful item to add to your toolbox. It says much about you as a person and as a writer.

  42. You set yourself a great goal. Not an easy one, mind you, but worth pursuing.

  43. Thank you for this! I am including characters of diversity in my current WIP and I, too, am concerned about writing it well and writing it in a way that loves on everyone, and yet, I was raised in a non-diverse community (even though I have a diverse family) and I live in a semi-diverse community now. It’s my goal to write with language that is good for every reader of every background.
    Thanks for the links!

  44. Good luck with this excellent undertaking. You’ve got the right idea.

  45. I too am a person of love.
    Kindness is the way to go. 🙂

    I hope to follow your progress as you travel the diversity pathway…

  46. Good luck with your writing goals. Diversity is important, as much as love!
    Merry Christmas!

  47. Asking for sensitivity readers is wonderful. Good luck and good for you for stepping out of your comfort zone and adding more diversity to your work.

  48. Good luck finding sensitivity readers. And opening yourself to include more diverse characters in your writing. You can do this!

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