18 Things Every Writer Can Remember Doing as a Kid

18 Things Every Writer Can Remember Doing as a Kid

Maybe you come from a long line of writers, or wrote a bestselling novel the same day your coordination finally allowed you to grasp a pen with your pudgy toddler fingers.

But if you’re like the rest of us, the signs were a little more subtle. But they were there. Oh, were they there.

1. You read in a lot of inappropriate places.

Walking down the street, on a bike, behind your textbook in class…

2. Which is why the day you got your first library card was the best day of your life.

Though you had to replace it a few times because the numbers wore off surprisingly quick.

3. But the day you got an A- on an English paper was the worst.

Don’t worry, we know it never happened again.

4. Your friends hated getting books for Christmas.

Worst. Christmas. Ever.

5. But not you. Books were the only gifts you cared about.

And you definitely spent the rest of winter break reading them all by the light of the tree.

6. Your favorite day of the year was when you received the Scholastic Book Fair catalog.

You went nuts over those things, ordering every new Goosebumps and Baby-Sitters Club you could convince your parents to pay for.

7. Even though you got carsick, you always read in the car.

Didn’t matter if you were driving two minutes to church or on the long journey to grandma’s house. You always brought your book in the car and insisted on reading until you made yourself sick.

8. Harriet the Spy was your hero.

Hey, if people are talking in a public place, it’s fair game for your notebook. 

9. Though sometimes you pretend to be Nancy Drew, solving mysteries in your neighborhood.

You may or may not have “borrowed” your mother’s vintage dress and scrounged up an old magnifying glass to complete the look.

10. The second you finished watching a movie, you immediately wrote dialogue for its sequel.

As soon as the movie was over you were frantically continuing the story in your own words. It usually involved you becoming best friends with the main character.

11. You were convinced your script was better than the original.

Come on, Ninja Turtles: Revenge of Mom was a masterpiece.

12. You were always imagining your friends as characters in your latest story.

Your real-life BFF was the spitting image of the superhero sidekick in your latest comic adventure. Coincidence? I think not.

13. During vacation, you’d force them all to reenact your stories.

“No, no, no, Johnny! Do it again. And this time? This time do it with feeling!”

14. Your parents asked if, maybe today, you should “get some fresh air.”

You know you have a problem when your parents think you read too much.

15. So you created your own reading fort.

Which, on top of being cozy, had the added benefit of not being able to accommodate adult-sized humans.

16. You’re seriously considering making a one now.

I mean, you don’t really need that walk-in closet, right?

17. Someday, you’ll build an entire room with wall-to-wall books.

Bonus points if you can snag one of those rolling ladders.

18. For now, though, you’ll just shamelessly shove your face between the pages of a real, live book and inhale the scent of your childhood.

And because, who are we kidding, the smell of books is fantastic.



Filed Under: Craft
Danny Iny from Firepole Marketing

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  • Marian:

    It’s like you were in my head as you wrote this. SO spot on! Cheers, kindred spirit!

  • Jan Young says:

    How about: You spent all your allowance money on flashlight batteries so you could read under the covers after you went to bed.

  • Such a fun post! I dream of a wall of books, ladder included. Its amazing how this so describes me. I actually would get booted out of my room to go “play outside”. #bookwormforlife #writer #muse

  • mary says:

    I love this! And yes, I fit most of the criterion, including being chased outdoors to play (though I loved being outside, too, and playing!) and frantically inventing dialogue for favorite shows or movies.

  • S. Zahir Shah says:

    Excuse me, I thinks the signs are not of the would-be serious & classic writers .

  • Stephanie says:

    What a fun post! My dad once bribed me to play outside instead of reading. I especially relate to #17. I tried… but my husband finally got tired of building me bookshelves.;-)

  • Debashri says:

    I loved it. Each point is true, and funny at the same time. Sometimes we become a serious trouble to our parents as we hate unnecessary socialization….

  • Haha, my boyfriend just said to me the other day when I said I was bringing a book on a 2-hour drive that, “you can’t read in the car.” Someone else had told him it makes you carsick so he always figured he couldn’t. And I was all, watch me.

  • sharmishtha says:

    We are so alike are not we? No wonder we never fit in with the rest and aint sad for that at all.

    Just loved the post.

  • Ashlie says:

    Wait, not everyone’s childhood was like that?

    I guess I was too busy reading to notice. Ooops!

  • Bob says:

    Back in the 60s I’d scrounge my lunch money, skipping school meals, so I could buy my next paperback book to read. To be left alone where nobody would bother me, on the way home, I would sneak into the local cemetery where I could relax against a marble headstone and read. Obviously I didn’t like rain since that meant I couldn’t go read in quiet because the ground was wet for the next couple of days but there was always lots of fresh air. Even winter wasn’t all that bad in the cemetery for a quick stop and read.

    • sharmishtha says:

      Cemetary!!! You are brave! I too used to buy books and cassettes with almost entire pocket money as a kid.

      • Wendy says:

        What’s so brave about reading in a cemetery? Lots of people in our town like to go for walks in our big one, and I often would stop after going to the dollar store–especially if I’d bought some candy and a new book! And I’ve sketched or photographed the chapel lots of times.

    • Ijeoma says:

      Are you kidding me???!!!!! Cemetry!!! No, I couldn’t have done that. Lol

      • Ghorroj says:

        What’s so bad about a cemetery? The well-kept ones are lovely. The only thing that spoils it is if you have a fear of death or dying, because all those headstones are a reminder of the inevitable.

  • Yep, spot on… And thankfully my wife is about the same way. We converted our spare bedroom into a “library” which does have walls of books 🙂

    My favorite room.

  • Wendy says:

    Hmm. Guess I must not be meant to be a writer. I only looked forward to the latest Scholastic catalog. And wrote poetry with my sister. And was amazed that my sister had blank books that she could write her own things in (I had to get one so I could write my own poetry in one, too). And started stories on old wide-carriage greenbar computer paper she brought from the paper mill she worked at. and own thousands of books. And majored in technical writing. And actually have four books on Amazon. and, and . . .

  • Bettye says:

    I’m older than the rest of you, but can relate to almost everything listed in this delightful post. My mother’s lament was, “You’re going to put your eyes out if you don’t stop all that reading.” She apparently believed eyes had an exhaustible ability to see, but then her favorite subject in school had been math. Not surprising she never understood me.

  • Lorene Albers says:

    Ditto to all. Loved the post.

    It’s like Sherman Alexie said:

    “What kind of life can you have in a house without books?”

  • Amanda says:

    I laughed…and I cried…finally, someone understands me!

  • Saumya says:

    Awesome! Nailed it 😀

  • Ben Collins says:

    Great read! 17 is still the dream…

  • Emel says:

    This list was spot on!! Well mostly…lol

  • Deel says:

    yeeesss oh my god i thought i was the only one who sniffed old books hahah they always smell so good.

  • OMG! You know me so well. I will admit that I am currently working on achieving #17 on the list.

  • LOL – I don’t write fiction, so the points about cooking up your own stories was not relevant to me.

    But you dumped me in my childhood with the rest 😉

    Thanksssssssssssssssss Marian

    PS: Does anyone else pace every aisle of the library just to INHALE that intoxicating aroma of books?! Every once in a while, I pick a book, randomly open a page, and take a good sniff! *sigh*

    • Wendy says:

      Nope. Our local library is too good at getting rid of the old books (I’ve seen perfectly serviceable copies in the sale shelves, only to be replaced by a newer printing that looks a little flashier) and dousing the furniture in inorganic cleaners all the time.

  • Christina says:

    I don’t remember a lot about my childhood except I wasn’t that great of a student in school. I wrote my first poem at 15 yrs old. I believe it was a way of escape from the abuse I was suffering. I developed a love for reading when I got married. My husband had to buy me a bigger bookcase because the one I had didn’t have enough room. I was putting books on my kindle, but I’ve went back to paperback books.

  • Lisa Cunningham says:

    Great post! I watch HGTV and the homeowners on one show were actually…wait for it…tearing out the built-in shelves! Insane! Wrong on so many levels.

    • Wendy says:

      Yes, but were they the right spacing for books? My parents bought me what they thought was a good bookshelf; it got banished to the basement because the shelves weren’t high enough to hold standard hardcovers, and I’ve got another I’d rather get rid of because the shelf spacing is so big, there’s space to spare when you’ve got “trade” size books on it, but it’s warping because it really isn’t strong enough to support the weight of that much books. The one built-in bookshelf (actually a small closet), I have, I had my dad add a shelf because the bottom was wastefully high.

  • Alison figueroa says:

    You must have followed me my entire life. This is true on so many levels. In fact, unknown to my husband, I’m turning our closet into a walled bookshelf. I already habe my reading/writing shrine set up in the corner or our room.

  • Reading this is possibly the highlight of my day. I loved getting books as gifts! My sisters … not so much. And the smell? Oh the smell of books. Seriously, I love my Kindle but it can’t hold a candle to actually holding, touching, smelling a real book.

  • Eve says:

    These post are very informative. I enjoyed reading all but the negative one. I was never much of a reader, in fact I didn’t start reading novels and memoirs until my late teens. As a student I hated having to write a book report because I didn’t know how to begin. It wasn’t that I wasn’t interested I just didn’t have teachers who cared. As an adult I went back to school and had a writing class and my professors were phenomenal with me. I managed to write book reports and get good grades for them. I enjoy the smell of a new book. I have more books than I know what to do with and my ex bought me my first novel and I read to my children when I was pregnant and when they were children I bought tons of scholastic books for two and I still purchase for my youngest. I read to my children when they were babies and taught them how to read as well. Thank goodness my daughter loves to read. My oldest son will be 34 this Saturday is not fond of reading but knows how and my youngest reads goosebumps and magic treehouse stories everyday and at the end of the week writes a book report on it. He is 18 and autistic. My way of getting him to read more is telling him that if he wants to be a screen writer or director he must read daily. Now he loves reading it’s not a chore.

  • Hope Light says:

    Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! These are GREAT! I had a terrible weekend and am still laughing my butt off. Thank you so much. Wonderful creativity.

  • Ben says:

    What about the agonizing self-doubt and loneliness?

  • Rosalind Harris says:

    I can so relate to some of the pointers. During my teens I was accused of being anti-social for having my head forever buried in a book.

  • Sarah El Boustany says:

    Well, instead of “your favorite day of the year was when you recived the scholastic book fair catalog,” I would have said, “You would sneak out of the house to buy books meant for adults and hide them under your mattress”.

  • Josh says:

    Literally none of these things were true of me. “Every” seems like a bit of a stretch. A bit click-baity.

  • Awesome post! Describes me to a T! 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Wendy says:

    Now you’re making me feel old! You forgot “You LOVE gifts of blank paper”!

  • Marian,

    I can relate, completely.

    Looking back, I always imagined if I was normal…mum and dad always bothered themselves sick about my health and where I was headed.

    It became clear soon enough though 🙂

    Thank you for aiding me travel through memory lane.

    Make the day great!

    Akaahan Terungwa

  • Jacqueline Daniels says:

    This list was spot on with me. Of course, I believe that I’m a it older than the rest of you but I found many similar ways to get my reading in. My mother was so concerned about my voracious reading appetite that she wanted to send me to a psychiatrist. After that I had the strategy of going to bed early (in the house with eight kids, quiet time was at a premium) around 6 or 7 PM and then I’d wake up at 2AM and read until the sun came up. I never gave up but while other kids were sneaking out drinking and doing drugs, I was sneaking out to read.

    This article so validates so many of us who had family members and other authority figures trying to convince us that something was wrong.

    Thank you so much

  • Bev White says:

    I am 77 and I have just finished my second novel in two years. The story about the 18 features of a writer was just like going back to my past for me but access to books was so limited when I was a kid. I started writing stories when I was about 6. They were only about 10 handwritten pages sewn together. I was told that it was the sign of an untidy mind and a fanciful one that would hold me back in the future. The only books in the house belonged to me and the first ones I got were Enid Blyton. One of our aunts gave them to me whenever she came from interstate. I read them over and over again and guarded them with my life. I am the only one in my family to have gone to university because I had a love of books and writing. It won’t surprise anyone to hear that I became a librarian not so much to read books but so that others could. Now I get to write and the theory I am forwarding is that because my brain is not being drained from lack of use I will be writing forever. My mother found out about books later when she could access them and she was still reading novels and biographies at 98. Thank you Marion for the memories.

  • Utpal says:

    Spot on! Except for writing sequels, all are true for me. You put me in a nostalgic mood. Thanks.

  • Lex says:

    Anyone else strangely satisfied or aroused by breaking the binding the way a dog marks territory.

    “NOW it’s all mine.” Mostly because nobody else wants it after that.

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