26 Obvious Signs You’re a Writer

26 Obvious Signs You’re a Writer

Ah, the writing life. You know it so well.

Endless caffeine, a little bit of procrastination, blank Word documents, piles of notebooks, bouts of self-doubt and the satisfying clickety-clack of the keyboard. All things those of us who fancy ourselves writers are intimately familiar with. (OK. Maybe it’s a lot of procrastination, not just a little.)

We took to social media to ask writers all over the world to complete the sentence, “You know you’re a writer when…” The results are hilarious, honest and heartfelt.

You know you’re a writer when…

1. You keep a journal and pen by your bed — you know, for those middle-of-the-night bursts of inspiration.

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2. Every moment when you’re not writing is spent thinking about writing.

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3. You take a sick day from work to stay home and work on your latest project.

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4. You can never have enough coffee to keep you going.

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5. You have a stockpile of 15+ blank notebooks and journals and buy more faster than you fill them.

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6. Your friends, family, and colleagues make you write their important emails, cover letters…and even the inscriptions on greeting cards.

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7. You turn down plans with family and friends so you can keep writing.

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8. You type, type, type away and don’t even care about the time.

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9. Your wrist physically aches.

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10. Every person you see, whether on a bus, at work or out shopping, becomes a potential character for your novel.

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11. You finish reading a novel and you head straight to your laptop to start writing yours!

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12. Your friends and family are a tad sick of hearing about your latest writing project.

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13. You get in a writing groove and just can’t stop.

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14. Word counts only slightly stress you out. OK. They really stress you out.

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15. There’s paper wadded up all over your floor from editing.

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16. You’ve perfected the art of procrastination.

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17. Your computer is filled with half-baked story ideas that you’ll get to one day.

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18. A blank page no longer scares you.

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19. You think “this will make a great story” as you’re in the middle of an experience.

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20. You document your life on the Internet.

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21. You’d rather be reading a book.

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22. You use words like an artist uses paint.

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23. Every part of your life (purse, car, house) is filled with random Post-it Notes and scribbled-on-receipts because you got an idea at a random moment.

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24. Killing off one of your beloved characters gives you real heartbreak.

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25. You finally admit it to yourself.

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26. You write. Simple as that.

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Go on! Add to this list in the comments. You know you’re a writer when…

Thank you to members of the Freelance to Freedom Project, One Woman Shop and The Write Life Facebook communities for contributing to this post!

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117 comments

  • You suffer withdrawal symptoms if you go more than a certain amount of time without writing. For me it’s about 24 to 48 hours. Others, it could be a lot less.

    • AJ says:

      I can go the weekend without writing, but that’s really the extent of the time before I start feeling that loss. Like my imaginary friends are going to be mad because they haven’t spoken to me in forever.

    • Good one, Ani! Writers need to write!

      • Wendy says:

        I don’t know, I get in these love/hate cycles . . . I’ll do just about anything to not sit sown and start writing, and then I’ll write ’til I’m too bleary to think straight, and the next day, something else that absolutely needs doing (last wee it was two clogged drains) just happens to come along . . . and then I’m out of my rhythm again.

    • Karen Crider says:

      You know you are a writer when you corner complete strangers in grocery stores, Walmart, and Books A Million, and explain to them you are a writer. That leads to questions as you detail your latest short story, novel, children’s book etc, and would they be interested in having it for their child, grandchild, children in their second childhood, etc, because you have several copies in the car. Of course, that leads to other books you may have written over the course of your life, and a passing exchange of telephone numbers and addresses you fill your purse with. A week later, your husband finds names of men you have met and he wonders if you are more than a writer, “And what are you doing with all their addresses?”

    • Ant says:

      I know what you mean! My withdrawal symptoms begin the moment I turn of my pc to go to work. And then I can’t wait to actually get to work so I can steal time to continue my writing, lol! 🙂

  • A most entertaining post, Jessica. The video clips are genius. It scares me that I’m actually like that. For me, an anxious sickness in my stomach plagues me when I read some great piece of writing that I wish I had written.

    • Glad you enjoyed the GIFs, Ron! 🙂

    • Ray says:

      lol funny. I feel very happy after seeing this blog because I wasn’t sure if I was a writer or a troubled girl with a lot of thoughts and sticky notes on my computer. Can anyone give advice on how to use all of this brain juice…I have ideas of blogs and i write many many poems….i screenshot every beautiful phrase that i stumble on..i also have have many books but all of them are in my head…i day dream about myself as a character and then i realize that im actually making a movie or a book or something..help!

  • Creative says:

    I can certainly with these obvious signs You’re a writer.

  • Charles Thomas says:

    You know you’re a writer when you need it like food. That is, when you need both to READ and to WRITE equally, like bread and drink. A lack of either means a lack of nourishment of the soul, and induces a range of stress symptoms.

    You know you’re a writer when writing is no different to being in love, when the bliss of the state as well as all its traumas affect you to the core and dominate your life and your choices.

  • Jim says:

    Wow… my life i doomed. The entire “GIPHY” thing went far far over my head.

    Visiting their web page was a serious dissapointment.

    I now feel the writing gods may swoop down and erase all my bylines!

  • Robert Nielsen says:

    You know you’re a writer when your Internet search history (and possibly topics of conversation) can cause concern from family members, and POSSIBLY be of interest to local law enforcement!

    Example: I’d been doing a lot of talking (and researching) on the death penalty–finally, my wife asked me WHY I was doing all this. I said, “RESEARCH, dear! I might want to include a death-penalty scenario in a novel sometime, so I NEED to know about procedures, what happens on death row, etc.”

    • Good one, Robert. I try to do my research late at night and file the sometimes weird info I collect in a secret password file. After that I delete all the search history. You almost feel like you’ve done something wrong.

      • Robert Nielsen says:

        Thanks, Ron. A secret password file? Hmm…might be a good idea! And yeah, deleting search history is DEFINITELY a good thing, for more than one reason! 🙂

        • Brian says:

          You can achieve some anonymity by using a VPN, or the Torr browser, you can erase browsing history, etc., but there’s no such thing as total or perfect anonymity.

          More to the point, your browsing/search activities aren’t nearly the subject of interest to anyone – including the NSA – that many people seem to think they are. If and when you become a person of interest in some type of actual crime or criminal activity, that’s a different matter.

      • emily mackenzie says:

        Ron,
        you make me laugh! And ditto to what you said!

    • Haha, yes, as writers, I’m sure our Internet search histories can often by quite questionable!

  • You know you’re a writer when you have a history of writing in secret, of stealing postage stamps from the husband’s stack, or hiding you manuscripts but knowing that you much.

  • Andrea Roach says:

    You know you are a writer when you have to join a gym because you have spent weeks sitting on your duff.
    You know you are a writer when you hit save every 5 minutes just in case the lights go out.
    You know you are a writer when you look at a “You know you are a writer” list and say ” Thank God I’m not alone in this. “

  • Lisa Cross says:

    You know you’re a writer when you ‘sh’ your husband because your characters are shouting louder in your head. They’re chatty little blighters.

  • Mag says:

    You pay a lot of attention to the first line in novels, so much so that you don’t read the second line for five minutes.

  • Kayleigh says:

    You know you’re an author when you subscribe to TheWriteLife! XD

    You know you’re an editor when you are constantly checking your email, and when you find it empty you are miserable because your friends didn’t send a request asking that you help edit their books (most of which only get to a page or two before they’re dumped for a new idea).

    You know you are perfectly crazy when you make a Google Doc titled “The Sleepover Document” and bring your favorite female characters there to have a sleepover with your writing buddy’s characters.

    You also know you’re an author when write you bunch of well-detailed sentences in your 6th grade ELA class instead of paying attention to the speaker.

  • You are a writer when you ended reading this with a smile on your face and daydrram away…….again…..

    ‘Writing is about putting things in perspective, blurring the sharp edges of daily life’
    The Nomadic Blogger

  • Layla Rose says:

    How wonderful and fun! I go long bouts w/o writing, but I’m always thinking. Being sick often keeps me down for many weeks, even months, at a time and I won’t get any writing done at those times. Sometimes, all I can manage is to get some poetry out. But this was so amusing. I’ve actually been getting a bunch of stuff done lately. Even started a new blog. So I hope some people check it out soon.

    • I’m with you Layla. It can be so frustrating to sit in bed with millions of ideas running through your head but very little making it to the page. And when we do have the bursts of actual writing time it feels like such a blessing!

  • You write a lot, even when you’re not well, and when you don’t you miss it.

  • You know you’re a writer when…

    You can’t make it to the bottom of a list post without going back to your writing project.

    UNLESS it’s a post about writing.

    Thanks, Jessica!

  • I can certainly relate to #17. Sometimes I’ll open a doc at random (in the hopes of discovering what in the world the title “some story” means) and, upon reading it, can only shake my head and continue wondering.

    You know you’re a writer when….. your sister swerves, nearly missing an oncoming car, when you suddenly exclaim, “Oh, yes, I have to write that down now!” Further evidence [of being a writer] ensues when you reach for a notepad and your favorite pen only to discover you left your purse at the house. Your sister is not a writer, she has no pen OR paper in her car. You panic, hyperventilate, can’t say a word, but your sister knows you well – instead of driving straight to the ER she stops at the nearest convenience store and rushes in to buy pen and paper for you. She reaches them to you through the window. You can breathe now. 🙂 True story.

  • Genie Krivaenk says:

    My thing: It makes me INSANE when I tell someone I finished a story and they say “What are you going to DO with it?” DO WITH IT!!! I tell them I DID what I’m going to do with it…I WROTE it!!!!!!!!!! Anything beyond that is gravy. Getting words on a page – THAT’S the hardest part. Think it’s easy? YOU go write something and see.

  • Wendy says:

    You know you’re a writer when your bookshelves are made of books (including a lot of writing guides).

  • Helene says:

    Wow! You’ve got me! I can last about 12 hours Wilbur writing something. The one about the post it notes and receipts really speaks to me. Once I was at carpool waiting for my kids and I was inspired, but alas no paper, I wrote on my leg! (Lucky I live where I can wear shorts!)

    One more to add: you know you’re a writer when your family doesn’t understand what the big deal is about what you post on your website, I mean, content is content right? That’s my biggest gripe.

  • How about when you find yourself doing something which seems perfectly normal to you, all of a sudden you look up to find someone staring at you (not even trying to hide it) and your only response (as if this justifies your odd behavior) is “Im a writer.” (My Sunday at Target, thankfully security was not called.)

  • Rhonda Davis says:

    When you take the time to read this post and laugh so hard as you see your post-it notes, coffee mug and piles of books around you.

  • frank says:

    very amazing…..In fact i love this especially how you did the illustrations

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