You know you’re a writer when….

That sentence can be finished off a thousand different ways. When did you figure out you were a writer?

For me, it happened early. Once I started reading, my imagination wanted to create its own stories and I found these stories took me beyond the small town where I grew up and allowed me think what could be possible.

I had a magical playground with a beach that appeared and disappeared on command, unsolvable mysteries that only my heroine could crack, then the next day travel to distant galaxies. I was never without a journal, paper or pencils. I collected bookmarks. I took my stories and bound them between cut out cardboard and illustrated the covers.

Once you become a writer you’re changed forever. It’s a mindset really, you’re going along and BAM, there’s two ancient ladies walking along a busy stretch of road, arm in arm and your mind has to give them a story. You crave learning because you can use the experience and knowledge for your characters. You get 2 hours alone and instead of taking a nap, you write blog posts about writing.

A few years ago, I picked up a cute book titled You Know You’re a Writer When… by Adair Lara. Inside are truisms for the writer’s life and it lets me know I’m not alone. That’s the thing with writing; for the most part it is not a group activity. You’re all by yourself with only your characters to talk to.

I know I’m a writer when I’m writing, but also when I quiz people on their life stories or jot notes about strangers and what they’re wearing. Some time back, while driving from Charlotte to Raleigh, NC I noticed a man jogging the paved paths in a cemetery. That was too good not to work into a story.

Here are a few ways I can finish the sentence:

You know you’re a writer when….

• You stalk people in public and use them for character descriptions.

• You rewrite EVERYTHING you read including the cereal box.

• Your genealogy research turns into a plot line.

• You read Beowulf for real (unlike high school) and discover the movie Alien was a complete rip-off.

• You have sentimental attachment to old pencils.

How do you know you’re a writer? Just know that you’re not alone, there are a lot of us out here talking to ourselves and making up words.


You Know You’re a Writer When… by Adair Lara  |  2007  Chronicle Books, San Francisco, USA

Recommended reading for writers feeling lonely; especially pages 16, 54,  #4 on p 21, oh heck, just read the whole thing, it’s really entertaining.

6 thoughts on “You know you’re a writer when….

  1. I’ve asked myself that question, and always I come back to my experience as a high school student, when, as an Air Cadet (If this is a mysterious allusion, it’s a Canadian thing)I travelled to summer camp, by train, across Canada, from Ontario to B.C. I wrote long letters home. They described the experiences I underwent.
    I don’t have any of those letters (I think – I’ll have to check my late mother’s papers again), but I recall detailed descriptions of the landscape.
    As a high school student in English class, I sucked. I knew I had it in me to write, but I sucked . . . or so my teacher said. Only later, many years later, when I was analyzing my high school education, I realized the teacher sucked . . . big time . . . as a teacher of English.
    He was a whiz at mathematics. In fact, we used to distract him in class by asking him to solve problems we had been assigned in math class.
    When I entered university, I took THE sessional prize in my introductury English course. I had a teacher who illuminated the subject, and I shone.
    So that’s when I knew for sure I was a writer.

    1. I love your story. It shows that the love of words and setting a scene is something we KNOW no matter what we’re told. That’s why authors get published after countless rejections, even Steven King. When you’re a writer you just know.

  2. “You stalk people in public and use them for character descriptions.” So, that’s not weird? Loved your post!

    I, too, became a writer early on. I was around 10 years old when I started reading the Harry Potter series, and ever since then, I have loved the idea of writing! It’s such a great outlet.

    1. Thanks Marissa! Writers are the ones best able to define weird;)

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