10 Ways to Know You’re a Writer

When I first started writing a few years (okay, a lot of years) back, I always wondered if I was really a writer. Did I have it in me? I would jump on any article that detailed what it took to be a writer. Imagination? Check. Determination? Check. Able to Read? Check. Able to write? Ummm?

Am I a real writer?

Over the years I’ve become more secure with letting people know I’m a writer, and I’ve discovered signs that let me know I not only can call myself a writer, I can’t call myself anything else. (Actually, maybe people call me crazy…) So here are the top 10 things that indicate you’re a writer.

10. You own a gazillion books. You own paper books, books on ereaders, and generally have books hanging out all over our house. You have a pile of books on an actual TBR shelf. You know what TBR means. (To Be Read) You usually have a whole shelf of craft books stacked together that you stare at, like a shrine to some writing god.

9. You take a book with you everywhere you go. Whether you read fiction, non-fiction, blogs or craft books, you carry it either in your purse, murse or on your phone. Just in case you have a few seconds minutes to read while waiting in the grocery store lineup, on your break or when your car breaks down. (I have a serious fear that I’ll be out somewhere, my car will break down and I won’t have a book to read while I wait for a tow truck.)

8. You carry a notebook and multiple pens. Everywhere. You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

7. You have a strange combination of Insecurity and Confidence. After reading something that makes you want to hurl, you say, ‘I can write better than that! Can’t I?’

6. You know Social Media. While you may not be a maven, like Kristen Lamb, you definitely know about platforms (or at least that we’re not talking about shoes), you’re dabbling in twitter, blogging, Good Reads, Triberr, etc… You know just enough to be dangerous.

5. You are an awful movie date. You will frequently try to predict plot twists or the ending of the movie you’re watching. Out loud. To anyone who will listen.

4. You are superstitious. You have favourite writing routines, spots, hoodies, t-shirts, notebooks, mugs etc…. All in the hope that if you do everything exactly the same as the day before, the muse will show up again. Oh, and you believe in the Muse. (right there… crazy.)

3. You are a horrible listener. I know everyone thinks writers are great listeners, listening for the next story. But really, when people start talking we actually only hear part of what the person is saying, because a word or phrase will spark an idea for us, and our minds race away with it. So tell your friends (if you have any left) don’t feel bad if you’re talking to a writer and their eyes glaze over. It’s actually a good thing! You’ve sparked a story idea. (Or maybe you’re just that boring.)

2. Ideas pop into your head at the most inconvenient times.  Ideas (whether for fiction or non-fiction) explode into your head, usually when you don’t have access to the multiple notebooks and pens you carry around. Like when you’re in the shower, or driving, or in a movie theater, or at your spouse’s business Christmas party.

1. You talk to yourself. Or at least you look like you’re talking to yourself. Really, it’s your characters possessing you (one after the other) in order to have conversations with each other. If you write non-fiction, you’re not exempt from this. We know you mutter ideas and carry on arguments with yourself (usually with lots of handwaving involved).

Bonus. You know you’re a writer when after an embarrassing moment or argument with your significant other, they yell, “Don’t you dare put this on your blog!”

Now that you’ve decided you’re a writer, head over to Chuck Wendig’s post about 25 Things I Want to Say to So-Called Aspiring Writers for some hilarious but seriously kick-ass advice.

So did I miss anything? What makes you a writer? What quirks and signs give it away?

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About Trish Loye

Trish is a wannabe astronaut disguised as a stay-at-home mom who drinks too much tea and tries to stay sane by writing down the crazy stories in her head.
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67 Responses to 10 Ways to Know You’re a Writer

  1. WAHAHAHAHAHAHAA!! ROFL when I read:
    You know you’re a writer when after an embarrassing moment or argument with your significant other, they yell, “Don’t you dare put this on your blog!”
    Happens at my house ALL THE FREAKING TIME!!!!
    Woot woot – call me WRITER baby!!!

  2. Lori Dyan says:


    I just read Chuck Wendig’s blog today, too! I loved his point re. “aspiring”…you, honey, are a writer.

  3. Jami Gold says:

    Great post! :) Although I have AquaNotes in my shower, so I’ve got myself covered there.

  4. You know you are a writer when family members say you are not!!!!

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      Oh no! Usually mine say I am, but occasionally its followed by that wink wink, nudge nudge gesture. I hope your family becomes supportive soon!

  5. I love this. And you are a writer!

    My kids now also say, “Are you going to blog about this?” Surprisingly, they often hope I will. That will soon drop faster than Greece’s credit rating, I suspect.

    I’d also add that you know you’re a writer if you have favourite notebooks and pens; if your spouse gets upset that you stay up too late; and if you’d rather go to a writing conference than a spa/golf weekend…

  6. Trish Loye Elliott says:

    Totally agree with your ideas. I would so much rather go to a writers’ conference than anything. Wish I was at one right now…

  7. OMG, I love it! I’m so with you on everything, ESPECIALLY #1 and 2! OMG, I always have at LEAST 1 book with me, no, 2. One paper or hardback and one I’m reading on my iPad. But really, I have like…over 200 on my iPad. So there! And pens and paper…plus Evernote on my iPad. I am a HORRIBLE listener because I’m always off in dreamland or taking what someone’s saying and thinking of it with a twist…and YES to the bonus! Not so much with the superstitious though.

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      So glad it resonated with you April! I totally need to get Evernote, I’ve heard good things about it. Maybe a future way to tell you’re a writer will be the number of new apps we try. Thanks for dropping by!

  8. I am emailing this to my husband!! I think there are times he thinks it is only me. :-)

    I am guilty of all 10, plus the bonus. :-) Great post!!

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      Thanks! There were definitely times when I felt like I was the only one with these quirks, but the more writers I met (through conferences and online) the more I realized I wasn’t alone. Hope your husband enjoys it!

  9. Oh, God. I’m a writer. My husband is going to be so pissed. Baaaaaaaahahahaha!

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      Lol, that cracked me up. Maybe he’ll finally resign himself to the inevitable, eh? Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Susan Silver says:

    My friends get mad at me for #5. Can’t help it, my writer’s brain always wants to analyze the technique!

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      I hear ya! I love to analyze a story. It’s like we’re learning story structure while we talk about the movie. Too bad the other people in the theater don’t feel the same way we do!

  11. I recognized the confidence-insecurity balance the most. It’s not only that you think you can write better than a lot of what you read, but when you do, you won’t believe you did. My friends say I’m a good listener, but I have to remind myself to keep track because, just like you pointed out, I will scream something every other two seconds.

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      It’s so funny that you say that. I also have to continually remind myself to pay attention when my friends are talking. And I agree that once we do write something that is decent, we don’t actually believe it. Thanks for dropping by.

  12. Marianne says:

    I agree about the listener part. My friends really don’t like it when they are asking for advice and I write it down first.

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      HAHAHA! You always crack me up and you can write while we talk anytime. Though I don’t think I’ll take any of your advice, if that’s okay.

  13. Emma says:

    Love this. I have books strewn all over my house, not to mention all those ebooks on my laptop and home PC. The pesky TBR list never gets any shorter :)

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      I know! My TBR pile just keeps getting bigger. And yet, I’m still buying books even though I’ve got way too many to read at home.

  14. You know you are a writer when it is 3 am and you know you should be in bed, but your characters are making you stay up.

    I have a pad of paper and pen just outside the shower. All my best ideas are born in the shower. IYKWIM.

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      :) I agree, Renee. Writers are definitely up at all hours dealing with their character issues. And showers are great for resolving those issues. IYKWIM.

  15. BB_Baker says:

    Was reading this to my wife and she was laughing at me. I guess that’s a good sign. I’m the worst with the superstition. I can’t let anyone use my pens, laptop or change any habits. I feel if I do I’ll lose some writing mojo. Wonderful list and I am all of these!

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      I definitely have a favourite writing tshirt that I wear when I think I need to channel the muse. Glad I could amuse your wife. Happy writing!

  16. JM Randolph says:

    Fantastic list. My kids just posted a picture of themselves on FB and it’s taken downstairs in front of the bookshelves. All I can see are these piles and piles of my books falling all over the place. Looks like a crazy person lives there. Great post!

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      I totally have that too. Way too many books. We have bookshelves in the basement that are supposed to be for the whole family… yeah, they have one shelf between them. Thanks for stopping by!

  17. Lafemmeroar says:

    Writing involves a bit of craziness and I’m definitely crazy (but not certifiable–yet) Loved #3 Sharing this on my Crazy Chicks FB page.

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      I’m so glad others are identifying with #3 too. Makes me feel a little less crazy. I’d love for you to share it. Thanks for stopping by!

  18. Teala says:

    These are all so true. I especially knew that I was a writer once I realized that I *always* have all of these words swirling around in my head – and if I don’t get them out, stay out of my way and duck for cover because I WILL talk your ear off or be very irritated. Great list!

  19. trjensen says:

    People are constantly worried I will write something about them on my blog and often beg me not to. LOL! I have always been good at accurately predicting the end of a movie or some plot twist that my friends didn’t suspect. People hate watching movies with me for this reason. :(

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      Your friends must loooove you! ;) I so get this and am in the same boat. My husband makes me promise not to talk before a movie starts. Thanks for dropping by.

  20. philangelus says:

    The “looking like you’re talking to yourself” is totally me. I’ve had a few embarrassing moments where I find people staring or reacting to me because I look furious or irritated or delighted because I’m running a scene in my head while standing in line or waiting for my kid’s class to finish. Or the time I suddenly laughed when my character said something funny, and then felt like I needed to explain, only there was no way I could.

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      OMG! I soooo do this! Especially the weird facial expressions out in public. And you’re right there is no way to explain. It’s so good to know we’re not alone in this quirkiness.
      Thanks for commenting.

  21. oldestgenxer says:

    Okay, I’ve seen a couple of guys on here, so it’s cool if I drop by–I don’t want to be that guy…you know, the creepy one. Scoping out the chicks. Breathing heavily.
    About the article: I don’t have all of these traits, but I have most of them. 1, 2, 3, 4, 7, 10. I am a horrible listener–but I’m a terrific eaves-dropper, because listening in is a clue to conversation structure.
    I’m always looking to learn more, and try to get a handle on the whole publishing thing. I skimmed a few articles, enough to know that I want to come back and check it out. You will soon tire of me.

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      You’re cracking me up! Of course you’re welcome to hang with the Wordbitches.
      You make a great point about eavesdropping. I think it’s true that writers make great eavesdroppers, we love to listen in to others’ conversations.
      Please come back and check us out. (Though without the heavy breathing. haha)

  22. Jess Witkins says:

    I think you nailed the top 10. I’m most guilty of #1 and 3. I do tend to pick apart conversations and get stuck on a person’s pronunciation or a certain phrase. And when I’m working I talk aloud a lot. Sometimes I catch myself in a coffee shop making really animated faces or mouthing the words and I catch others staring at me. LOL

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      It’s great to know we’re not the only ones with the crazy habits, eh? Thanks for dropping by, Jess and for telling others about the post.

  23. Julie Farrar says:

    I’m so there with the carrying books, notebooks, and pens (Parker T-ball Jotters, blue ink only) everywhere.

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      I so have at least 5 pens in my purse, along with usually two notebooks and at least one reading book. My purse weighs a ton.
      Thanks for stopping by!

  24. Shari Green says:

    LOL, right on the mark, Trish! Re #9 — almost had a panic attack this a.m. when I arrived at the optometrist’s for my appt and realized I DIDN’T HAVE A BOOK WITH ME!!! Also, yes, I admit I’m an awful movie date, as well as a horrible listener who tries hard not to show my guilt and shock when I realize my mind wandered from the conversation a looong time ago. smile and nod, smile and nod….

  25. Trish Loye Elliott says:

    Thanks, Shari! I love it that you panicked without your book. I sooo do that. As well as the smile and nod, smile and nod. Lol! Thanks for coming by!

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  28. #5…*glances side to side*…um…guilty. Great post, Trish!

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      Thanks so much! Don’t worry. We’ve all got our quirks. ;) And thanks for stopping by.

      Sent from my iPhone

  29. Okay I’m a writer, but let’s add one. I will write, she stood in this pose or sat that way, and then I have to sit or stand that way, just to make sure a person can, Now that’s called crazy! :-))

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      Great addition! I do the same thing. You should see me when I write a fight scene! ;) Thanks for commenting.

      Sent from my iPhone

  30. Julie Frayn says:

    I’m not superstitious at all, and am apparently an excellent listener. But I’m still a writer!! I know this for many reasons, including that I am an accountant, but volunteer immediately for any opportunity to edit reports or minutes or ANYTHING that has a dearth of numbers in it….

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      I guess with all those numbers you need some word work to balance you. I get that. I think the thing that most makes us writers is writing. :)

      Sent from my iPhone

  31. Char says:

    You have a pile of books on an actual TBR shelf. You know what TBR means. (To Be Read)

    And don’t forget the virtual TBR ‘shelf’. I have a folder on my browser toolbar called ‘to read’ where I stash bookmarks; then there’s the Goodreads list, a list in an academic citation toolkit called Refworks, and a folder in my Notes on the iPhone where I jot down titles that friends suggest.

    • Trish Loye Elliott says:

      Good point! I also take pics of books I want when I’m in the bookstore so I don’t forget them. Some people have pics of their kids on their phones, I have books. ;) Thanks for stopping by!

      Sent from my iPhone

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  33. edrevets says:

    Good god this is perfect. The talking out loud is especially prominent while shopping for clothes….in fact I think I might write a blog post about that.

  34. Elena Aitken says:

    Love it love it love it.
    I also agree with Leanne….I’d way rather go to a writing weekend/writer conference than a spa weekend.
    So funny, T.

  35. kathils says:

    Oh geez, I’ve erupted into fits of giggling. Absolutely hysterical and so, so true!! Especially the writers being good listeners. Ha! I almost snorted water through my nose at that one. Thanks for the laugh!!

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  39. Very true. I’m amazed as to how many others have same lifestyles I thought I was all alone and a misfit. Cheers! to the writers and of course thanks to all those that wrote comments. During days where I have writers block I turn to this page and get inspired.

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