When I used to work as a graphic designer, most people outside the industry had a glamorized image of what the job entailed. I find the same thing is true when I tell people I’m a writer. The image doesn’t fit the reality. So what makes a writer a writer? Here’s my take on it.

  1. You forget that the characters in your book aren’t real.
  2. You forget that the characters in your head aren’t real.
  3. You carry on conversations with the characters in your book. Out loud.
  4. Your neighbors think that you’re weird.
  5. Every notebook in the house belongs to you, even if you have to steal it out of your grandson’s backpack. (In my defense, I put it back after I tore out the pages I used and he never even noticed it was gone.)
  6. Your best friend breaks their leg and as they writhe in pain, you take notes because you might need it for your novel. (I didn’t do this, but I’m pretty sure that if the occasion arose, I would.)
  7. You critique everything you read.
  8. You critique everything you watch on TV or at the movies.
  9. You drink tons of coffee. Or alcohol. Or eat lots of chocolate. Or (in my case) gummy worms.
  10. Your butt is numb.
  11. You realize you can no longer spell due to years of relying on spellcheck.
  12. Halfway through your work in progress, you come up with a fantastic idea for a new novel. And you want to start working on it NOW. Instead, you make a few notes and go back to your WIP.
  13.  You decide that flipping burgers or working in a little cubical somewhere would have been a better career choice because you suck as a writer.
  14. You realize you don’t suck as a writer.
  15. You don’t give up.







About Diana Douglas

Diana Douglas, author. Coorganizer of the Arizona Novel Writers Workshop. Member Arizona Historical Novel Society, Member BooksGoSocial Authors, Transplanted Texan.!/themodernscribe
This entry was posted in Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. Marcia says:

    Great list, Diana! Numbers 9 (chocolate) and 12 are totally me! I would add: You procrastinate by playing too many computer games when you’re stuck for ways to fix your novel.But, you know, I’d never do that. 😉

  2. chloeroberts93 says:

    Having a rampant imagination :p

  3. Char Bishop says:

    Well done. If one doesn’t relate, one isn’t a writer. I don’t feel so alone now.

  4. David Waid says:

    Awesome list, Diana. You’ve nailed it (and I love your #5). Here are a couple more that I have:
    * A desire to put something into the world that excites wonder. A teeny droplet of world-news anti-venom.
    * A sick, improbable desire to have an echo of my existence heard after I’m gone, even if it’s because a handful of warped, coffee-ringed printouts make someone pause and sit when they’re supposed to be cleaning out the garage.
    *A corollary to your #15 is: The stubbornness to pursue a dream rather than just dream about it.

    • Hey, just the fact that you came up with… ‘A sick, improbable desire to have an echo of my existence heard after I’m gone, even if it’s because a handful of warped, coffee-ringed printouts make someone pause and sit when they’re supposed to be cleaning out the garage,’ makes you a writer.

  5. ericjbaker says:

    For some reason, at first glance, I thought this post was titled, “Signs You’re NOT a Writer.” I was going to say, Uh, Diana, most of us don’t need external encouragement to be self-critical. What does it say about me that I mentally added “not” to your post title?

    I can’t relate to #4. My neighbors do not think I’m weird. They do not know I exist, because I’m hiding in a corner somewhere, in the shadows with the blinds down, silently pecking away on my laptop.

  6. Liz M. says:

    Perfect list, and witty as always. I don’t talk out loud to my characters, although of course they’re real. . . . does that mean I’m not a writer? (My nemesis is #13, the endless, pitiable self-doubt that I’ll never be a REAL writer.) Especially because I can never remember whether the period goes inside or outside the parentheses. But then I think, ‘only a real writer would care so much about getting it right, right?’ . . . right?’

  7. L. Palmer says:

    I often carry on conversations with myself and my characters. Luckily, I have a few writer friends in my social circle who understand.
    I think the most important is #15. It’s perseverance that will win the prize of a finished work.

Leave a Reply

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

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

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ 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 )

Connecting to %s