How to know if you’re a writer

I am not here to dispel any stereotypes or clichés or generalities about writers.  My goal is only to hold up the proverbial mirror and let you discern for yourselves if there is a writer within.

There is a phrase in the New Testament, Luke 4:23 specifically that reads “…Physician, heal thyself:”  I would like to adapt that to read, “Writer, know thyself.”

Why do this?  Writers are notoriously subtle creatures and often benefit from a good reflection now and then.

So here we go with a list of different mirrors.  If any of them resonate then you may have an inner writer after all.

You might be a writer if…

  • When telling friends about your root canal, you recite the event in three acts, with you as the hero and the oral surgeon as the evil villain
  • You think being social means posting to Facebook once a month
  • Your idea of “dinner out” is a trip to your dining room
  • You have a picture of an old typewriter over your desk
  • You have an actual old typewriter on your desk

Actually, I could go on, but there are several blogs that have done these lists before.  And honestly, they are mildly humorous only to writers who recognize the hyperbole in themselves.

For me, I don’t buy into stereotypes too much.  Since the age of fifteen, I have always considered myself a writer.  But what is it that made me think so?

I could tell stories.  I liked telling stories.  In fact, I thrived on telling stories.  Even the most innocuous event, when told properly, could be a compelling story.  Okay, so some of the bullets above apply to me, but not all.  Those who know me can likely guess which ones.

It wasn’t just about telling stories, it was about entertaining the listener.  I found an interesting paradox within myself at age 15.  I was painfully shy in most social circumstances, including classrooms at school.  But during our creative writing section, I was always the first to volunteer to read my story aloud to the class.  Those few stories were likely all the talking I’d done in class that semester, but I had no fear.  My shyness disappeared while I read and observed the reactions around me.  My first real audience.

Now I’m sure those early stories were horrible, not in the genre sense, because I tended to write horror stories back then, but in the sense that I didn’t know proper “craft” or narrative structure.  But I did thrive on using words to move an audience.  I had passion for story telling.  And at the time, that was enough for me.

So, that is why I know I’m a writer.  There are far more signs and evidence to consider and everyone arrives at the realization in different ways.

If you do not consider a writer, are you sure?  Do you like telling stories?  Do you have a decent vocabulary?  Do you enjoy reading?  If so, you may have an inner writer you’re neglecting.

If you are an admitted writer, when did you first realize you were a writer?  What signs led you to that discovery?  Are you actually writing, or just thinking about writing?


6 responses to “How to know if you’re a writer

  • hawleywood40

    Yes, yes, and yes! I’m a writer because I am happiest when writing (with reading coming in second). Because I love to tell stories. Because my first “finished” book was a collection of tales my grandmother had told me about her life, complete with the stick-figure drawings of an 8-year old. Because if I do not write at least every other day (and preferably every day), I am irritable and cranky. And because I really relate to and enjoy posts like this one : ).

  • Stephen A. Watkins

    The honest answer: I first knew I was a writer in grade school. Sure, I said I wanted to be an astronaut-archeologist. But what I really meant was that I want to be able to tell the sorts of crazy-awesome stories an astronaut-archeologist must be having.

    And I did write them. Ever since I can remember I have always told stories.

  • Mark J. Taylor

    I think there is always a common thread to the origin of a writer. It often begins with telling or even writing stories as a child.

    In fact, I don’t think a writer can be a writer if they didn’t have that early love of stories.

  • butchie34

    I knew when I realised that I was dreaming about what would happen next after I had finished writing a novel. It has always felt a natural progression for me to go from reading something to then try to tell a story.

    I think the best way is through an example. I read The Hobbit when I was eight and when I had finished I couldn’t think of any reason why I shouldn’t go on to try and contribute to the same genre. Admittedly my story was basically the hobbit in my own words but I’d like to think that was how it starts and that now I am writing my own original stories.

    • Deb

      I think The Hobbit started many on the road to writing. Such a great story! My sons all grew up on it, and LOTR trilogy, Hitchhiker’s Guide, and so many others. Good writers make good books and good books make good writers!

  • Deb

    Books and stories were always in my life. They were a part of me.

    The first story I remember telling was in 1st grade. We had Show & Tell but I’d forgotten to bring in something. I didn’t want a bad mark so I stood in front of the class to show off my turquoise skirt. “My grandmother made it for me,” I said, and went on to tell all about picking out the fabric with her, helping her cut and sew it. Not sure the boys in class cared much but the girls loved it.

    Of course, the whole tale was a “fabrication” (sorry). A lie. But I got an A. Writers are liars. Good writers are really good liars. I still have the skirt.

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