Signs You Could Be a Writer

by | Dec 7, 2017 | Writing Tips

Signs You Could Be a Writer (No Matter What Your Day Job Is)

‘I’m not a writer,’ people often tell me. ‘But I’ve always wanted to write…’

You know, there was a time I also wasn’t a writer. But I always knew I wanted to write. This longing then, could be, as Rilke put it, ‘the future enter(ing) us long before it happens.’

Here are some signs that you could be a closet writer:

You love ‘beautiful’ writing

You appreciate writing that is careful, sculptural. You re-read sentences sometimes because … well, because they’re just so delicious. You sometimes read things aloud, to hear how they sound. The words become chocolates in your mouth.

You underline or highlight words, sentences or paragraphs in books.

You’re not one of those ‘don’t mark up your books’ person. You hate the idea of ebooks because you can’t underline things with your pencil or make notes in the margins. You have no idea why you do this, except some inkling that someday you might want to come back to the places you’ve marked and re-experience that sentence.

You like to eavesdrop on peoples’ conversations.
Sitting in a café or at the bus stop, you listen in on conversations between people: teenage girls gossiping, spouses bickering, boys flirting, or the banal and terrible stutterings and silences that happen between people. Writers are good listeners. We then imagine the stories behind the words. This is how we learn to write characters.

You love to people-watch.
You can sit and watch people go by for hours – the granny walking her wobbly poodle, the way the chubby guy rests his hand in his girlfriend’s lower back, the rabbi in his black furry hat perspiring in the heat, the young mum with her whining toddler talking on her mobile phone. Writers are keen observers – we look deeply, watching the rhythms and textures of all human interaction.

You notice the spaces around things.
Not only do you notice what people say and do, how they look and behave but you notice what isn’t there. The mother pushing the empty pram. The pregnant woman without a wedding ring. The guy in the bar who talks about his family. The newly renovated home that no-one moves into. The car parked at the end of the road that never moves. Writers don’t skim across the surface – we look in, around, through and between things. We look for where stories hide.

 

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You read books and think to yourself, ‘Even I could write better than this…’
You get seriously irate when reading a badly written book. Sometimes you wonder, ‘how did this get published?’ Being able to recognize what works and doesn’t work in writing means you’re reading like a writer.

Sometimes words make you cry.
A sentence can brings tears to your eyes. Words move you.

You have empathy.
If you are naturally empathic, you’re able to imagine what it’s like to be someone else – a person in a wheelchair, homeless, kidnapped, raped, childless, lost… Writers imagine what it’s like to be other people all the time. We create fantasy worlds.

You have celebrity crushes on authors.
No matter how nerdy. John Green. Need I say more?

Being a ‘writer’ is an identity you choose, when you write. You don’t need permission, a degree or a certificate to write. You just do it. When you translate your longing into action and start putting words on the page, that’s when you graduate.

If you need permission, or a sign to go for it: this is it.

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