You Might Be a Writer If . . .

Think you are a writer? Maybe so, maybe not. But you may be a writer if . . .

. . . you go on your morning walk and discover this on someone’s lawn:

santahowitzerand your first thought is “where is that ‘Keep Christ in Christmas’ sign when you really need one?”

—and your second thought is, “Is he going to run over that collapsed snowman and blame it on Santa?”

—and your third thought is “What’s that brown thing? Is that a wiener dog implicated in this tableau?”

You walk on and find this:

santaAnd your first thought is: “Good use of a Santa that can’t be inflated anymore!”

–and your second thought is: “Did that other Santa on the right fall off the roof earlier? Is he dead or does he just have the wind knocked out of him?  And if I give mouth-to-mouth, how long will it take me to inflate him?”

Being a writer is not easy. You will find yourself incredibly sensitive, even emotional, at odd moments. Simultaneously, you will have to have a very tough skin, because everyone you meet has advice for a writer, most of it negative.

You have to be curious about the world. You can’t be curious if you don’t know about the world. Which means you have to experience it, get involved, and yes, watch the news. No hiding from the magnificent, roiling combination of environmental, human, and geographical conflagration we partake in. You can’t grow an imagination on a steady diet of popular culture and celebrity. You’ll wind up writing lame fan fiction like Fifty Shades of Navy.

If you just thought, “Who cares if she can write, that lady is rolling in dough and sold her movie rights for millions!” you can’t be a writer. Writers care about content more than anything. Good content.

You might be a writer if you have a constant trickle of ideas as long as you don’t have a way to take notes. The instant you open your app or pull out paper, the great idea vanishes like steam over a subway grate.

You might be a writer if you narrate your life, and while you are at it, you constantly improve or change what’s happening, to make it “read” better.

And if you don’t want to be a writer, but keep running into them, here are five things never to say to a writer:

1. “So you write? Would you have written anything I’d read?”
For the love of sweet Mother of Pearl, how should I know what you read? Cereal boxes? Sales flyers?

2. Books are so expensive! Can you give me five for my friends? Oh, and sign them, would you? That way I won’t have to come to the book signing.
Yes. No. And no again. Buy the books, that’s how a writer earns a living.

3. So do you just sit there and wait until ideas show up?
No, you live a complicated life with many twists and turns and spend a lifetime taking notes. For every forty-four pounds of journaling, you’ll find half an ounce of good ideas. You think this is a bargain.

4. I’ve always wanted to write a book.
Great. Get busy. Books don’t write themselves.

5. Are your books just your life, but only better?
My life is like a book plot like a letter is like a sentence. It’s all raw material, but it’s not in the right order. That’s what a writer does. Put thoughts and ideas into the right order.

–Quinn McDonald is a writer and creativity coach.

Advertisements

26 thoughts on “You Might Be a Writer If . . .

  1. “You might be a writer if you have a constant trickle of ideas as long as you don’t have a way to take notes. The instant you open your app or pull out paper, the great idea vanishes like steam over a subway grate. I love this because it is so true! I also have two things to add. You might be a writer if 1. Wrong punctuation drives you crazy and you find typos everywhere. 2. Your family and friends have you on their Emergency Call list next to their doctor, lawyer and car mechanic, and call you all the time to ask “How does this sound?” or “Can you Wordsmith this for me? It won’t take long…” Or especially the “Can you give it a quick proofread?” (When you’re a writer, there is no such thing as a QUICK proofread). Unlike the doctor, lawyer and car mechanic, we are not expected to charge for our professional editorial advice though.

  2. I can’t tell you how much I love this post, Quinn! The deflated Santa was the cherry on top of your excellent thoughts and words.

  3. I don’t think I’m a writer but someone inside me is always writing and then when I read it I cry and react and think to myself, “I can’t believe I wrote that”. Other people read what I write and they say to me, “I can’t believe you wrote that”. I finally decided there is someone inside me that is doing all this writing.

  4. Things never to say to a newspaper reporter:
    Wouldn’t you like to do ‘real’ writing?
    Why was my paper delivered late this morning?

  5. Oh dear . . . I might be a anything I damn well please because I have a constant trickle of ideas as long as I don’t have a way to take notes. The instant I open my app or pull out paper, the great idea vanishes like steam over a subway grate. I’ll go away and cry into my coffee now.

  6. This is great! I constantly get asked what I write or what have I written that people can read. Yes – tell me all about the intimate details of your work. Ready? Set? Go!

  7. Quinn;
    Dang – I am cursed with a writer’s mind and a lazy man’s work ethic. Thoughts such as you describe in this excellent post flow through my mind all the time every day, waking and sleeping, and yet they never seem to gel into a story.
    “You might be a writer if you have a constant trickle of ideas as long as you don’t have a way to take notes. The instant you open your app or pull out paper, the great idea vanishes like steam over a subway grate.”
    I have these thoughts and ideas and my Commonplace Journal sits on a shelf at home because it is too hard to carry it around all the time (cheap excuse – I always have my iPhone and almost never use it to take a note or record an idea.)

    Brilliant nuggets of insight and humour turn to dross as soon as I start polishing the idea for use in an actual story.

    “Eureka the Mother Lode! Oh wait no. Just gilded dog poop again.” 😦

  8. How about ‘Oh I read a book once, but my wife moved it and I haven’t been able to find it since’.

    Overheard at a dinner party.

    I really like your take on this. As for the Santa – he’s probably been hanging there since last year and no-one noticed, poor chap 😉

  9. “You might be a writer if you have a constant trickle of ideas as long as you don’t have a way to take notes. The instant you open your app or pull out paper, the great idea vanishes like steam over a subway grate.”

    Well, I guess I’m a writer AND a painter, then, LOL.

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s