You Know You’re a Writer When….

This is a list started by a student in one of my Beginning Writers Workshops.  (Was that you, Gullie?)   Many class sessions have been invited to add to this list, and these are some of the best.  You might even recognize one or two of your own!  I hope you will add some more. 

You Know You’re a Writer When…

1. You edit and revise your grocery list.

2. You stop in the middle of an argument with your spouse to jot down a great piece of dialogue.

3. You cross out the new watch on your birthday wish list and replace it with new ink cartridges and 12 reams of paper.

4. Strangers ask you why you are staring at them in coffee shops and want to know what the heck you’re writing in that little notebook.

5. You re-read “Pride and Prejudice” and evaluate the verbs.
6. You tell your friends that your favorite way to relax is galumphing. The men look at you with a new respect and your women friends check it out on Google.

7. You drop dead of a heart attack and while looking for identification, all the paramedics can find are little slips of paper in your pockets with words like: gravel, Martha, scorpion, tornado.

8. Your spouse reports that on more than one occasion, you sat bolt upright in bed and shouted, “I know what I need to change.”

9. You start editing your day planner to give it a better plot.

10. You scan the employee database at work to look for good character names.

11. Your friends are starting to whisper about your thousand-yard stare.

12. You decline social invitations because you have a date…with your muse.

13. You’re having many more fights with your teenagers about who gets the computer.

14. You’re looking forward to the next big snow storm so you can go stand at a bus stop in open toe heels and a thin coat so you can experience how Martha felt.

15. Your kids are cooking dinner (for once!), and they yell, “HURRY, turn that computer OFF!”  and you think, “Just one more paragraph, then I’ll go see what caught fire.”

16. You pray for red lights while driving so you can jot down your newest ideas without having to pull over.

17. When the bathroom reading material includes a Thesaurus and “Elements of Style.”

18.  Your characters are more interesting than your friends.

19. Only now, your old high school English teacher appears to make some sense.

20. You read cereal boxes and try to figure out the point of view.
21. You just read a best-seller, and the author says it took 15 years to complete. You wonder how she did it so quickly.

22. The note your child brings home from school is returned to the teacher marked in red for character development and plot structure.

23. Next time you see a red leaf, you take a good, long look.

24.  You try out story ideas on your cats and wait for them to comment.

25.  When you start your business letters with:  Dear Mr. Thomas, Thank you for referring Mrs. Smith, who, aided by her walking stick, slowly hobbled up the stairs to my office today.  She took her time maneuvering the revolving doors, before stepping into the reception area with beads of perspiration on her brow and a smile that matched her bright floral dress.

52 responses to “You Know You’re a Writer When….

  1. I love it! I was nodding and laughing from line one right through to the last period. Thanks for the laugh. 🙂

  2. 26. Your spouse has a day off for the first time in two weeks and you politely ask if they could go to work because they’re cutting into your writing time. (True story)

  3. No, the originator of this list was Patti J. I contributed only 11 and twelve.

    But, I’ll work on another contribution to a wonderful list.

  4. Dang! Where is Patti J when we need her! It appears there is no way to hold the ultimate reunion, and that’s too bad.

    But yes! Contributions are welcome! This is a wonderful collaboration.

  5. 26. You know you’re a writer when you realise that everyone else in your Creative Writing class is a tragically self-deluded loser who’s wasting his or her time. You know you’re back in reality when you realise they’re thinking the same about you.

  6. You know you’re a writer when, without being aware of it, your fingers emulate typing on an invisible keyboard.

    (Don’t tell anyone, but I’ve been there, done that).

  7. You know you’re a writer when no one comments to your blog posts but you go ahead and write some more anyway.

    (Fortunately, that hasn’t happened to me often. I know if it did, I’d continue to write anyway).

    • Shaddy, I understand this remark oh-so-well. It is so warm and fuzzy when friends leave comments, so lonely when they don’t. Those are the times I remind myself why I started my blog in the first place. It was a place for my words to go, a place where they could alight on anyone who passed by and paused long enough to read them. It was a warm and safe home for my words, a place they were always welcome, a place where I set them free. (An internal buzzer is warning me I should check all this for grammar, but who the heck cares about grammar when it’s two thirty in the a.m.? New motto: maybe tomorrow grammar.)

  8. Bingo on the blog posts, Shaddy. It’s apparently a matter of trust. You write. At times, you will have readers.

    And you write on. Perhaps as readers, we are not so visible, but we do read. Keep going!

    • Thanks, Ann.

      I forget sometimes that just because I don’t see a bunch of comments on my blog, that doesn’t mean few have read it. Since I’m in the habit of leaving comments, I assume other readers are too.

      Oh dear. Here I go again.

      You know you’re a writer when you can’t read a blog post without commenting on it.

  9. I agree with Shaddy’s comments. But how awesome it is, when a post generates personal emails from one ‘friend’ to another!! I love 13, 16 and 23. Many a time I have said my children, no you cannot have the computer. And no I don’t know when I will be done, I am writing!!!

    • Oh yes, those personal e-mails between fellow bloggers do wonders for the soul. Thank you for your responses to mine, Annie.

    • Ah, yes. The infamous red leaf. I loved that lesson and recall someone’s accurate description of a skittering leaf.

      I wrote of standing with my face pressed to the window and of tears streaming down my face as I stared helplessly at the Crimson King maple tree in the front yard. Her gorgeous red gown was ravaged from her by cruel and thoughtless autumn winds.

      (I need direction and motivation to write like that again).

      • J. M. Follett

        The skittering red leaf was written by the one and only Sandra Dee. Or maybe it was her evil twin, Dee Dee:

        As the congregation knelt in prayer,
        tiny red devils
        danced and skittered
        in the courtyard.

        Wow, still takes away my breath.

        And remember the one about the sunlight glare on the road? This is what Sandra Dee/Dee Dee wrote:

        Mile after mile. Two days without real food, just Red Bull and cigarettes. Burning eyes, white knuckles, aching shoulders. Sudden swerves, stray dogs, oil spills, police bullets, alien death rays. “Dude, how long you gonna play that thing?”

  10. Uh, why did it call me J. M. Follett? It was me–Gullible. Gully. Just me.

    • What the heck’s going on here? I had a really nice post about the skittering red leaves. It (this comment box) called me by another name, and then lost my comment. I’ll wait a while and see if it appears.

    • Wow! You’ve got some organizing system if you can pull BWW submissions from your files that quickly. I’m in awe. I saved a lot of stuff from BWW that I printed out and stored in organizers on my bookshelves. I know where it all is but it’d take me forever to locate a specific piece of writing. My filing system is basically useless but back in our infamous BWW in 2006, I felt the need to save as much as I could during those good old days. I wonder if I’ll ever go back and read any of it.

      We’re lucky to have you, Gully. Yes, indeed!

    • That’s it, Gully. That’s the writing I remembered. Sandra Dee won the cake for that one! We loved her for that. I’ll never see the word skittering without thinking of BWW and all the excitement it inspired in us.

  11. It’s here Gullie. Goofie Internet.

    All these postings about the pleasure of having folks comment on one’s blog makes me think of how neat it would be if Sandra Dee or Patti J showed up and saw that their writing was still appreciated. This idea engenders hope. We will all keep posting!

    I guess I’m a romantic. A good thing, I think.

  12. You know you’re a writer when you create a new post for your blog with the intention of displaying plots of photographs and a few short captions beneath them. Before you click on “Publish Post,” you realize you’ve written several paragraphs.

    A writer values pictures. All have heard that a picture is worth a thousand words, yet, does a writer TRULY believe that?

    • Oops. LOTS of photos, not PLOTS of photos. That’s interesting though. Photos do display plots in their own unique way.

      Voila! The joy of writing is revealed once more. It’s like fishing. You throw in your line and you never know what you might bring up.

      A typing error reveals an otherwise hidden truth. Ahhh…I write on…in search of more.

  13. Today’s contributions from Shaddy to the ever-growing list of the trials and tribulations of writers are as follows:

    #1. You know you’re a die-hard writer when you edit each and everything you write, even when you know it’s really not necessary; you aren’t submitting your e-mails for publication for Pete’s sake.

    #2. You know you’re a writer when you can’t go on vacation without your laptop. You pack it, you unpack it. You pack it again, you unpack it again. You scream. You argue with yourself and tell yourself you need a break from your addiction. You insist that it will be good for you to focus on other things. You force yourself to speak aloud ten times the words, “There are other things in life besides writing.” You relax because you’ve made a wise decision. You will leave you laptop home.

    You open the door to leave for the airport. You feel yourself being pulled back. Your will is no longer your own. You rush back to where you’ve hidden IT out of sight, under your bed. You grab IT and return to the door. You quickly remove all your underwear from your bag to make room and you pack IT.

  14. You know you’re a writer when you stop cleaning the house. You don’t even seem all the clutter. Instead of appreciating it, you want to shout, “Turn off that …. thing” when your husband pushes the vacuum past you in an attempt to remove all the discarded words that litter the floor and are tracked all over the house.

    • My editing slip is showing so I must tug it back up.

      Up yonder, instead of SEEM all the clutter, I meant SEE all the clutter. Of course, you knew that, yet as a obsessive compulsive writer I’m compelled to spell it out for you. SHEESH! Writing is like an unrelenting and recurring illness and I’ve got an exceptionally bad case of it.

    • Barbara Burris

      Boy I can relate to this one, Shaddy! I’m so attached to this little black box that I can’t imagine a day without it. Housework and cooking both seem so unimportant. Until the underwear drawer is empty!

  15. You know you’re a writer when you wake up one day and realize you’ve replaced all of your old friends with new friends who have blogs.

  16. You guys must think I’m nuts. I think I’m nuts too. It’s 10:31AM on Sunday morning and I’m in bed with my laptop. Yesterday, I did was in bed until noon with my laptop.

    This is highly unusual for me but I believe I need to be here. I’ve been struggling to get back on an even keel after vacation. I wrote about my past week on my blog but don’t know if I’ll actually post it or not. It felt good to write about how I was feeling but don’t want to give the impression of being ungrateful. Besides that, I’m feeling more inspired to write than I have for quite some time.

    Oink, oink. I’m sure hogging the posts today, ain’t I!! When I get rolling, sometimes I can’t control myself. Oink, oink, oink…

  17. writing – the only activity where you can binge and purge simultaneously

  18. I know I’m a die-hard writer because when everyone who’s in their right mind, including all of you, is off enjoying the marvels of Spring, I’m drawn here.

    Come on kids. At least stop in and let me know what specifically is keeping you away. It better be good!! 🙂

  19. I’m off to house-sit in Halibut Cove for about ten days. Want to see where I am? Google Stillpoint at Halibut Cove. Then envy me big time.

  20. Okay, okay, Gully. You have a good reason for your absence. I’ll let you go for ten days, specifically to Halibut Cove. Just don’t pull anything funny while you’re gone, ya hear?

  21. This is hilarious! “all the paramedics can find are little slips of paper in your pockets with words like:gravel, Martha, scorpion, tornado.” SO FUNNY. Great post. Thanks for the laughs.

  22. Better late than never

    You know you’e a writer when
    *Your husband comes into the office where you are madly typing away on the computer and says, “Honey, were we going to have dinner tonight?” You answer, “in a minute,” and it’s 2 hours later when you finally sit down to eat.

    *Not being able to jot your great idea down while driving, you call home and leave it on your voice mail, cause you know you’ll forget it if you don’t.

    * You find your voice escalating in volume in the hair salon as you tell your stylist about your new mystery plot, causing lots of curious looks in your direction.

  23. You know you’e a writer when you actually sit your butt down and write instead of wishing you were a writer.

    • You’re right, JJ Writer.

      • Thanks, Shaddy. In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve perfected the butt part. Now I’m working on the rest.
        I hope you don’t mind if I receive the name. It inspires me, plus it’s a little CC Rider-ish.

  24. You know you’re a writer when you finally work out exactly how and when to use, and when not to use, apostrophe’s.


    • Keep working on it. You’ll get the hang of it one of these days, Fignatz.

      I enjoy the challenge of grammar rules but they are quite unnecessary and extravagant in most cases if you ask me. If I didn’t enjoy it, I’d be disgusted with all those goofy commas, apostophes, semi-colons and their acquaintances.

      Actually, I know that you know all about grammar and all the rules. My first sentence was a weak attempt at a very delinquent April Fool’s Day joke.

  25. You know you’re a writer when Easter dinner is cooking and you’re writing on Ann’s site.

    (Well, the guys are playing around with the half dozen TVs here in the house and on the porch. They aren’t paying any attention to me so here I am, doing what I do. I pulled out a bottle of Bloody Mary mix that we got for Christmas. I’m finding out that a Bloody Mary and writing make good companions. To heck with the guys.)

  26. You know you’re a writer when you put up with holes in your underwear but Word had better not drop a sentence.

    You know you’re a writer when a spring in your chair is performing a colonoscopy but you’re not budging until the chapter’s first draft is finished.

    • It’s wonderful knowing you still have your priorities in the right order.

      Better fix that chair though, Walk. No wonder you have holes in your shorts!

  27. Ann,

    Please go to my website. You might like what you see.

  28. YoooouuuuuWhooooooo!


    Dang, this place is so empty everything I say eerily comes back to me.

    I reckon I have another reason to write:

    Where is everybody?

    Where is everybody?

    (Shaddy leaves, slamming the door behind her).

  29. Ok Shaddy!
    You know you are a writer when you are looking forward to a 6 week grammar class and all the assignments you will be required to complete!
    (BTW Ann – any word on when Writing Essentials will begin? )

  30. You know you are a writer when you’re watching the delivery of your grandson and you’re thinking, oh, I can use this.

  31. Okay, okay, Shaddy. Knock off the echos. Let’s see if I can wake this place up and maybe lure Summer Goose out of hiding. This was my reply when she said she had to time to write:

    No Time to Write?

    Gosh and golly. Me oh my.
    An inspiration, she said, am I.
    No time to write? A poor excuse,
    Time to shake the cobwebs loose.

    Washing dishes, mopping floors,
    Doing laundry, painting doors,
    Weeding gardens, mowing lawns,
    Watching deer with spotted fawns,

    Driving home from this or that,
    Car full of kids with ball and bat,
    Ideas come with words anew;
    Take out’s on tonight’s menu.

    Groceries wilting in the car,
    The kids all think that mom’s bizarre,
    She’d rather write than watch TV,
    Like school, one says, and all agree.

    When I grow up, one says to all,
    I’ll spend my time down at the mall,
    You won’t catch me with pen and paper,
    Spending money’s what I prefer.

    Little do the others know
    How minds with words can overflow.
    We let them out to keep from harm,
    To hold them back gives us alarm.

    We might explode (oh, what a mess),
    Because our words had no egress.
    I know why you’re so morose,
    “No time to write,” I diagnose.

    These words I want to emphasize:
    Find the time, don’t compromise.
    You’re the one who gets to choose
    When to talk with your own muse.

  32. Wow and I thought Robert Frost was a poet.

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