Wednesday, April 19, 2017

5 Signs You're Actually A Writer

There is an obsession within the writing community about separating the real writers from the poseurs and pretenders. Sometimes it's easy to tell the difference. If you can walk into a bookstore, and pick your book off the shelf, then there's no doubt you're a writer. You have physical proof. However, if you haven't hit the big-time yet, you might be feeling some anxiety about whether or not you can lay claim to that title. That's why this week The Literary Mercenary is laying out the top 5 signs that you're probably a writer.

So let's get started, shall we?

#1: You Adopt Pens

Hello my darlings... where are your parents?
When you're walking along the street, and you find a discarded pen, what is your first reaction? Normal people will see them, and usually walk on by. Writers, on the other hand, will stop. They'll pick them up, and give them a field examination. They'll check the grip, pop the tip out to check how much ink is left, and typically write a word or two to feel how well the pen works. Then they'll tuck the pen into their pocket, and take it home with them.

This happens pretty much anywhere you are. Whether you're signing for your check in a restaurant, or staying in a hotel room, pens just find their way into your pockets. Even if you have hundreds of them at home, there's always room for one more. Because you never know just when you'll need it.

#2: You Have More Notebooks Than You Have Socks

Come here, sweety. I just had a new idea...
If you're a writer, you're one of the easiest people on the planet to buy gifts for. Because no matter what time of year it is, no matter the event, and no matter how rich or poor you are, nothing will make you happier than a new moleskine notebook. Full-sized or travel, cheap or expensive, notebooks represent fields of potential. And whether you get it as a stocking stuffer, as a free sample in the mail, or just as a throwaway present from a friend who found this old notebook and has no use for it, there's always a little spike in your happiness when you hold it in your hands.

#3: You See The Threads When You Read

This is the part where they kiss. Yep, saw that one coming.
It's true that the best writers have a voracious diet of fiction. They read as much as they can, and they absorb what they see. Much like Neo in the Matrix, they develop the power to see the code. This means they understand the building blocks of story reality, and they can recreate them in their own worlds. So if you find yourself watching TV in a pose reminiscent of The Thinker, or analyzing the story line of every book you pick up regardless of the audience it was intended for, you understand the basics of the writing craft.

#4: You Can Tell The Age of A Book By Its Smell

And sometimes you can even tell the genre.
There are two types of people who walk into bookstores. People who look at the books, and people who smell the books. Whether it's the scent of fresh print on a new bestseller, or the smell of vanilla dust that lingers around old libraries, you have an acute sense of where these books come from. That perfume always makes you smile, and you inhale books the same way a wine connoisseur would sniff his glass. The body is certainly good, but first you need to savor the aroma.

#5: You Actually Write Things

Mileage may vary.
 I said this way back in my post How Do You Know if You're A Real Writer?, and I think it holds just as true now as it did then. Everything else on this list is amusing, and you may even find that it's true for you. However, if you don't write things, then you're not a writer. And if you do write things, no matter what they are, then you are a writer.

It's easy to hem and haw, and to claim someone isn't a real writer. It's a lot harder to actually sit down, put your fingers on the keys, and finish a project. Whether it's a poem, a short story, or a novel, and whether it's good or bad, if you wrote it, then you are, by definition, a writer.

Speaking of which, don't you have work you should be doing instead of reading listicles on the Internet?

That's all for this week's Craft of Writing post. Hopefully you got a snicker or two out of it. If you want to keep up-to-date on all my work, then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter. And if you want to help me keep it going, then head over to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron. All it takes is $1 a month to buy my everlasting gratitude, and to get some sweet swag as thanks for your support.


  1. Love the word Listicles. You have summed it up perfectly. I can be seen scrabbling in my bag for a pen so that I can do some writing while my husband has gone to the bar to order our food!

  2. Adding a sixth point will enrich the topic, I think, - reading-habit; reading just for pleasure.

  3. Yes..l am a proud book sniffer with an almost crippling passion for stationery stores and bookshops.
    Might I add that writers also own more than one dictionary ... real ones with pages.
    Thoroughly enjoyed your post.. Thank you.

  4. All true, but #5 is the only one that counts. The notebook obsession applies to all office supplies for me. For a treat, I allow myself to simply browse slowly through Staples or Office Depot.