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.

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About Judith Gaines

I enjoy the following (in no specific order): Harney & Sons ParisTea A stack of good books Slow walks through art galleries Hiking in areas with no cell phone reception Discovering new cities Playing Reversie and Mancala with my daughter Watching college football with my husband- Go Pack! Baking anything that has lots of sugar and butter ........ and writing View all posts by Judith Gaines

6 responses to “You know you’re a writer when….

  • You know you’re a writer when…. (via Judith Gaines) | nonestoppen

    [...] If your looking to be a good writer and want some tips, then read this woman- she is wearing the t-shirt of experience. 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 … Read More [...]

  • Marissa Jean

    “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.

  • EJ Lavoie

    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.

    • Judith Gaines

      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.

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