This inspired today’s blog entry. You’ve heard the “you might be a redneck” ones, so here I offer you signs that you might be (or know) a writer:
1. You hope Alexander Graham Bell is stuck in purgatory having to take every call and text throughout all time. Sure, the internet functions are awesome, but I know I’m not the only one who wants to slap him silly for inventing the telephone. It’s a distraction, and too many people abuse it.
2. Learning is mandatory. You’re always sucking up knowledge and drawn to things that most people run away from, like online courses, documentaries, news and science apps, conspiracy theories, and even crime solving shows on TV. Not that you buy into everything, but you’re always open to learning about things to help and inspire your writing and the odder, the better.
3. So is technology. We talk about the quaintness of fountain pens and notebooks, but those serious about the craft make their laptop their best friend. Why? Two reasons: First, you type faster than you write, so it’s easier to catch those ideas exploding out of your head if you type them. Second, nobody takes manuscripts “over the transom” anymore. If you really want to get published, it’s all about digital formatting. Every method of publication, from self to epublishing to traditional, requires a manuscript produced on a computer, most often Microsoft Word, and conducts a lot of work by email. It’s faster and easier to do every draft from start to finish that way.
4. So is reading. Writers love the written word, and we want to know what’s out there. A serious writer builds up their skill by a balance of reading and writing, because you have to be a good reader to write in a way that reaches other readers. Books matter.
5. People frustrate you. Drama is more entertaining in fiction than in reality. In fact, most writers have a small “inner circle” of people, and they prefer to keep things small and quiet. Bilbo Baggins had it right: adventures belong in books. Life is already too noisy and rushed without adding more chaos with silly stuff and manufactured drama.
6. A sick day is an opportunity. If you work full time, then most writing is done on lunch hours, nights, weekends, and on sick days. You have to be opportunistic with your time when your life is already full, and there are very few things that will keep you from writing when you find a moment of quiet, uninterrupted time.
7. You learn to ignore distractions. As I mentioned, we live in a loud world. If you want to get that story out of your head, then you learn how to write despite the other things screaming for attention around you. Noise, conversations, televisions and radios, blaring sirens, weather alerts, housework, yard work, beeping machines, a hurricane outside, the loud conversation in the hallway, the washing machine banging, the dryer, the smoke alarm, the truck that crashed into the sign on the corner, the lightning strike that blew up a transformer – nothing can pull you out of your own world once you’re in it. Once you accept that the world won’t be respectful enough to be quiet for you to create, then you learn to create despite it’s distractions.
8. You multi-task in different ways. You can work out plot points and characters while at work, brainstorm on breaks, figure out a “plot knot” while taking notes to write meeting minutes, find a new name for a character while taking a phone call, invent a conversation while eating a sandwich, outline while cooking dinner, figure out edits while folding laundry, and plan your plot while cleaning bird cages. Writing isn’t just when you’re sitting at the computer typing words – it happens in a variety of stages. Often, we writers are still working on our writing even when we’re doing other, completely unrelated things.
9. “Early in the morning” qualifies as a curse word that immediately puts people on your “bad” list. It’s a well known fact that writers are a nocturnal bunch, so being forced to get up for a day job is torture enough. We aren’t living in an agrarian anymore, so why do we need to be up before dawn? Come on, even my parrots sleep in.
10. Anything is inspiration. You see the jokes about writer’s putting you in their book and killing you off on page 42. That’s not entirely true. While we can draw inspiration from anything, the true nature of creativity mixes and matches things in a way that most people wouldn’t recognize when they read it. I recently read a line in a book that I think applies well to writers: you have to know what’s real, what’s not, and what’s the difference. Writers perceive the world differently, which makes them sensitive to a reality that most people don’t see. What does this mean? That we express it differently. Don’t be so sure you see me in every protagonist I write, or yourself somewhere else. Nobody’s been able to figure out what Move, Obsidian, and Progenitor are really about yet. All they see is the story, and not what’s behind it – and the same applies to every book written.
So there you have ten signs of a writer. If you see these signs in a person you know , then there’s nothing you can do about it except knowing that you know a writer. Just don’t ask them to put you in a book. Trust me, that never works out in a way that makes anybody happy.
That’s all today. Take care, and have a great week.