26 Obvious Signs You’re a Writer

26 Obvious Signs You’re a Writer

Ah, the writing life. You know it so well.

Endless caffeine, a little bit of procrastination, blank Word documents, piles of notebooks, bouts of self-doubt and the satisfying clickety-clack of the keyboard. All things those of us who fancy ourselves writers are intimately familiar with. (OK. Maybe it’s a lot of procrastination, not just a little.)

We took to social media to ask writers all over the world to complete the sentence, “You know you’re a writer when…” The results are hilarious, honest and heartfelt.

You know you’re a writer when…

1. You keep a journal and pen by your bed — you know, for those middle-of-the-night bursts of inspiration.

2. Every moment when you’re not writing is spent thinking about writing.

3. You take a sick day from work to stay home and work on your latest project.

4. You can never have enough coffee to keep you going.

5. You have a stockpile of 15+ blank notebooks and journals and buy more faster than you fill them.

6. Your friends, family, and colleagues make you write their important emails, cover letters…and even the inscriptions on greeting cards.

7. You turn down plans with family and friends so you can keep writing.

8. You type, type, type away and don’t even care about the time.

9. Your wrist physically aches.

10. Every person you see, whether on a bus, at work or out shopping, becomes a potential character for your novel.

writer

11. You finish reading a novel and you head straight to your laptop to start writing yours!

12. Your friends and family are a tad sick of hearing about your latest writing project.

13. You get in a writing groove and just can’t stop.

14. Word counts only slightly stress you out. OK. They really stress you out.

15. There’s paper wadded up all over your floor from editing.

16. You’ve perfected the art of procrastination.

17. Your computer is filled with half-baked story ideas that you’ll get to one day.

18. A blank page no longer scares you.

19. You think “this will make a great story” as you’re in the middle of an experience.

20. You document your life on the Internet.

21. You’d rather be reading a book.

22. You use words like an artist uses paint.

23. Every part of your life (purse, car, house) is filled with random Post-it Notes and scribbled-on-receipts because you got an idea at a random moment.

24. Killing off one of your beloved characters gives you real heartbreak.

25. You finally admit it to yourself.

26. You write. Simple as that.

Go on! Add to this list in the comments. You know you’re a writer when…

Thank you to members of the , and Facebook communities for contributing to this post!

Filed Under: Craft

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119 comments

  • You know you’re a writer when your mom decides to leave you alone when you stay up late reading in bed, because it’s safer than sitting on the open windowsill of the 14th floor reading by moonlight. (That’s where I wrote my first poem:)

    You know you’re a writer when you email a million copies of what you’re working on as you write- to two different email accounts, and also save to Google Docs.

    You know you’re a writer when your IPhone is one of your best friends because you write on the fly, and it’s by your bed so you can wake up and write at night.

    You know you’re a writer when your IPhone is out of storage because your Notes app is full of your writing projects.

    You know you’re a writer when it would be cheaper to buy the books than pay your library fines.

    You know you’re a writer when your friend is crying in the church lobby on Mother’s Day and you start to talk to her and encourage her. But then you pause mid sentence and say, “Wait a minute; you’re inspiring me,” and whip out your phone and write your thoughts in front of her, hug her, and text the message to her family for them to read to her. By then she is laughing and says she’s glad she could inspire you. And then you go home and post it on your blog along with three other pieces. (Stop by and visit:)

  • Barbara Levinson says:

    I’m a writer because I can’t not be a writer. My DNA reeks of blue ink.

  • I knew i was a writer since i won my first writing competition in high school in England,
    and published my first book, Cockney Girl. But all I know is I am obsessive and love deadlines for written works. Dishes pile in the sink, bills are ignored until dangerous,
    forget to pay water and suddenly find i am in a desert or don’t find out water is cut off until others complain. I have published 50 articles and stories ranging from
    scholarly to scurrilous and four manuscripts ready to go. Forget competitions, i now want to sell what I love writing and yes, almost every experience has the element of a story or article. I have kept diaries since I was 15 and have led an exciting life, much of which is novelized. The work is much, the time is short. Saying from Ethics of the Fathers. God give me time. Writing is the erotic part. Getting published and known is the boring part. Public speaking, being recognized for your writing, to your amazement, is very pleasant. Being paid for what you enjoy is welcome surprise for the artist in you.

  • Endah Achinko says:

    This is just me. I just can’t stop writing and I am exploring every medium where I can share my thoughts and imaginations. Not only as a novelist but also as an online blogger. What I also find fascinating about writing is when you know how to play with the words.

  • Lynn Everard says:

    Great article Jessica.

    You know you are a writer when you feel like you will die if you don’t.

    You know you are a writer when your biggest fear is that you will die with words left to type.

    You know you are a writer because you type run on sentences because you know that letters are free and punctuation marks cost money.

  • Clare Rubel says:

    You know you’re a writer when…

    You talk too much because you’ve written too little.

  • Amy Isaman says:

    Great piece – LOVE the gifs. It was a great break. I think #10 is my favorite – I could watch people all day long!

    I would add, you know you’re a writer when you feel, with every cell, that “The End” is meaningless! Because then comes the hard part, revising…

  • Leonard T A Salt says:

    …………….when you have no choice in the matter. When every fibre of your being is driven to write and it’s not something that you choose to do, it is something that you are driven to do. The artist will create pictures and sculptures out of old rusted bicycles if there’s nothing else. The musician will turn a plastic bucket upside down and create rhythms. Build a guitar from a tea chest or a cigar box if that’s all there is. The writer will take the words in their head and put them on paper because not to do so would be the same as not being alive.

  • tracy jones says:

    yep that sounds like me alright. also if you read a book, especially one with errors (when you proofread) you say “I can write better than this” and then you proceed to prove it.

    • EJ Jackson says:

      In a way, that was kind of what got me started again, Tracey. I’ve always loved reading, and have always wanted to write, but after a few attempts in my teens/twenties didn’t have the self-confidence to try again until almost ten years ago. A few years after that I read a novel that people were raving about and realised that if this person could do it, then so could I, and why shouldn’t I? With age comes confidence, the realisation that life isn’t a rehearsal… now I have the urge to write and create and there is no way I ever want to stop. I am as avid a reader as I am a writer, and couldn’t imagine my life without either one.

      A friend once bought me a notebook that had on the cover ‘Be careful what you say to me – I might put you in my next book!’…

      To your great list, Jessica, I would add:

      Family and friends know that you almost never remember to finish that cup of tea/coffee, so make you half-cups instead, ‘because of the waste’

  • Debb Stanton says:

    You stop and wonder how this or that character in your book (or another book) is doing today – because they seem that real to you. 🙂

  • Confused says:

    What if you only related to half of the listed items? Does that mean that you’re a potential writer? Hmm. But then, I started late in life… I don’t have much time to write, but enjoy it when I can. I am also a musician. It’s an amusing article, but I don’t think that anything in life is that definite.

  • kalman says:

    You know you are a writer when you can’t sleep at night because your characters are keeping you awake.

    • Alia says:

      Ahhh! I spent two weeks not sleeping because of this! Of course, the story was well worth it once I relented and wrote it 😉

  • Beverly says:

    You know you are a writer/editor when you have to flip back 10 pages in the book you are reading because the character just tripped over her loose shoelace and you know she was described as wearing knee-high leather boots earlier in the chase.

  • Nina says:

    This was a fun post! I laughed, because I completely identify with numbers 1, 2, 5, 6, 15, 16, 17, 19, 23, 25, and 26. Sometimes I doubt I’m a real writer, because I’m not formally published, but this post reminded me of how much I love it. Thanks!

  • Laura Turner says:

    Wow! What a fun post!

    Okay — you know you’re a writer when you write about writing — almost as if to justify it to yourself and the universe. I have been writing and publishing since I was in my teens and somehow my inner critic still tells me I need to declare myself as a writer. I’m getting closer to 50 now — and I’m still a writer! Ha! But, I still find myself writing/blogging about writing and what a challenge it is to do such work. Perhaps this post will give me permission to say, “Yep, I’m a writer. It’s still hard work — but, it just IS.”

  • Semanti says:

    You know you’re a writer when your virtual world is more real than the real world and you cling on to a dream you saw last night because there’s a great story in there

  • Yarro says:

    funny but so true my few friends are scared of me because they know I am going to bog them down with my new story.

  • Rene says:

    You know you’re a writer when…

    You are reading a book and you get excited because of the words the author has chosen to express his ideas. You just stop reading to admire the words that were used and you are thinking about using them yourself.

  • Patricia Neighbors says:

    You know you’re a writer when…
    you randomly blurt out thoughts to anyone who will listen,
    even the ones who don’t!
    Sadly, I have even discovered that even our dogs run for cover when
    I’m on a roll.
    What can I say, I’m a hopeless scribe.

  • C. D. Samuda says:

    I’ve got to search my house for hidden cameras and a bug right now. I’m reporting this to the FBI! Someone bugged my house…You’re a spy!

    Seriously, this made me tear up and my chest tightened as my eyes scanned the contents. How can every single one of these points apply to me?

  • Having ~BUSINESS CARDS~ made with your name and AUTHOR title! ✍

  • After I published my Trilogy I couldn’t stop thinking about writing another book. I listen and watch everything and save stories and old photos from newspapers for ideas. I hear older people with their old sayings and copy them down. I always ask them if I can use them though. I love thinking about stories. There is a story in all things that we see or hear. I know I am addicted to writing I think it will always be with me. I thought I’d finish writing after the trilogy. I did do my life story for my grandchildren which was wonderful. It brought up lots of memories to pass on. I would recommend it to you writers. The children may not want to know but usually later in life they wished they would have asked more questions.

    After reading all of your replies I don’t feel so bad. Most of us are now tied to the one brush. Yes, we are all writers.

  • Oh My! This is incredibly fun and factual at the same time. I so loved the graphics and was grinning all through. lol
    The thing is, i tell people i know I’m a writer because i cannot not write. True. And the funniest part is, i feel so restless whenever i don’t write in say three days. I can’t help. I just can’t help writing after all these years. lol. Thanks for putting up this Jessica.

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