11 Signs You’re Meant To Be A Writer

Yes, things have been a little quiet around here lately, but that’s only because, first of all, I was so busy there for a few weeks that I couldn’t even think straight and then, second of all, once the busyness was over, I awarded myself a whole day off—I didn’t even check my e-mails—and instead curled up with Lionel Shriver’s Big Brother, and that felt so good that I gave myself another day off, and then I started feeling light-headed and strange and had to come back here (here being The Desk), and get back to work. So while I play catch-up with the 391 e-mails from people who still don’t seem to understand that I don’t review books, my lovely blogging friend Laura Pepper Wu is going to entertain you with a guest post I’m sure we can all relate to: 11 Signs You’re Meant To Be A Writer. And let’s play a little game: leave the number of things that apply to you in the comments. Welcome, Laura!

laura‘Since you are reading Catherine’s blog, you’ve no doubt accepted by now that you’re a writer. But just in case you haven’t or if you’ve been having doubts of late, here are 11 signs that you truly are meant to be writing – and always have been!

1. You bust out long emails without even flinching, and even your signature is like a paragraph long. Sometimes you start an email with the words “In a bit of a rush, so just a quick reply,” and still manage to bang out enough text for a Kindle Singles essay.

2. You’re the person who buys 10 postcards on holiday and actually delights in writing them. Oh, and each one has a different story on it, because writing the same thing to all 10 of your friends would feel like cheating.

3. You’ve dreamed of sitting in front of a typewriter/ computer and pouring your heart out on to it ever since you can remember. Whether your first inspiration was Clark Kent working at the fast-paced Daily Planet, or Carrie Bradshaw staring longingly out of her window in her knickers and a pair of sparkly earrings, you’ve wanted to do that forever.

4. You work your thoughts out better with a pen and paper than discussing the situation through verbally. If you’re trying to make a decision, make sense of something, or plan ahead for the weekend, it’s that trusty notebook and pen that you make a grab for first.

5. Staying home on a Friday night with a glass of wine and a good book sounds pretty much like you died and went to heaven.

6. You read the back of cereal packets and think about what you would write in place of the current copy (and think to yourself how you’d do a much better job at it).

7. You’re able to articulate and get your point across far better with written words than over the phone. Whenever you’re given a customer service number, your first question is, “is there an email address I can use?”

8. You’ve actually Googled “Can I expense coffee/ tea?” before.

Laura's newest venture, The Write Life magazine.

Laura’s newest venture, The Write Life magazine.

9. You read everything you can get your hands on, including the free leaflets from the supermarket or the book of coupons from the drug store.

10. You can’t walk past a stationery shop without popping in, “just to have a look.”

11. While you couldn’t give a hoot about playing Monopoly or Settlers of Catan, put a box of Scrabble or Scattegories in front of you and you suddenly get very competitive. That dinner party just got way more interesting.

How many did you nod your head along to? Many of us have wondered at one point or another what we need to do or achieve before we can legitimately call ourselves “a writer.” If that sounds remotely like you, stop that. If you truly love writing you probably know it and you always have, and that’s the only permission you need. Okay?’

Thanks, Laura! My number is 8, and it’ll be 9 in a minute after I Google “Can I expense coffee?”. My favorite part of Sex and the City was when Carrie sat at her little desk to write, but alas, my reality of this involves sweatpants, a tiny box room and a view of suburbia. Oh, well. 

Laura Pepper Wu is a writer and the editor for The Write Life Magazine: a lifestyle magazine for those of us who write. Check it out at TheWriteLifeMagazine.com. Laura is also the founder of Ladies Who Critique and 30 Day Books. Outside of her many writing-related ventures, she spends her time walking her spoiled dog in rainy Seattle, checking out local coffee shops, and learning (quite hopelessly) how to sing jazz. Connect with Laura on Twitter @laurapepwu.

100 thoughts on “11 Signs You’re Meant To Be A Writer

  1. Zig says:

    7 and a half. I don’t drink alcohol, ever. But if you substitute coffee or hot chocolate instead of wine, then 8 :p

  2. Muguet says:

    All but one! Loved this post, it’s so ringing a bell : ) The only bit I wouldn’t say refers to me is number 5, because Fridays and Saturdays are my social days :DD; yet I do think a night with a book and a glass of wine is heavenly.

  3. Roisin says:

    Probably 8 and half…. I love a good dirty game of Monopoly, talk a lot as well as write a lot, and dislike email signatures! 🙂

  4. InfoJunkie says:

    *lol* All of the above! I guess that makes me a writer. And just like you said, I’ve always known, but it’s always good to have some kind of confirmation. I’m so reblogging this!

  5. Michelle Abbott says:

    8 out of ten. I write really small on holiday postcards so I can fit more in there and even go so far as to mail them in an envelope so I can use the adress section of the card to write more.

  6. writerlyderv says:

    I’d add another one. Unless you write, you don’t feel right. You feel cranky and you don’t know why, until you realise you haven’t written that day.

  7. Author Unpublished says:

    I’m like… four of those. what does that say about my future D: I dunno I did other weird stuff growing up, like sitting at a desk by an open window and practicing my penmanship for several hours everyday so that when I did write it would be the prettiest manuscript ever. Or having an obsessive love of absolutely clean paper… or having a notebook of ideas/dreams/names that struck me as good fiction material.

  8. bittygirl51 says:

    OMG! I scored a 10, only because I DON’T drink coffee! I’m a published poet, but only 3 novels and one autobio in my head. Enjoyed this post!

  9. kellie larsen murphy says:

    Someone may have said this but I might add, you know you are a writer when you can’t leave the bookstore. I hate leaving just because I have to be somewhere! There is nothing more satisfying than browsing the aisles surrounded by the wonderful smell of books.

    • catherineryanhoward says:

      I wonder if being quiet in a bookstore is a writer/book lover thing. Went into Waterstones once with a friend who was talking at the top of her voice and I just had to sssh her. She thought it was nuts, but she was the only one making noise. The rest of us knew to behave as if in a library. Browsing = reading! ;-D

  10. jackiclayton says:

    10 out of the 11. I don’t enjoy postcard writing, not enough room on them! And I could add a couple of other signs.

    12. When the inspiration to write hits any flat surface is paper. (I’ve written with large markers over newsprint just to get the idea on paper right away, or on napkins and Keno slips when out with friends.)
    13. When you’ve loaded your e-reader with every free book you canay your hands on, as well as all the books you can buy.

  11. Lawrence Grodecki says:

    Well, for some reason I can’t do the math right now…I got lost in dreams of aisle number five, as the lady beside me is trying to explain the difference between honey nut cheerios and alphabets, or is it alphabits?

    I tried to explain that cheerios are much simpler than alphabets (alphabits?) but she kept insisting that you can’t make words with them. She seemed to come around when I told her that may be true, but with cheerios you can make pretty awesome pictures.

    She must have been a journalist because she asked tough questions, like which one would I prefer if I was having breakfast in bed. She blushed when I gave her my reply, “Crunch and Munch”.

    Now I’m wondering how many readers here will be checking for the spelling of Alphabits (alphabets?) . . . hope you “Post” that soon! 🙂

  12. lisadesmedt says:

    Hi, I’ve got 9 I can relate to. This makes me smile very happily 🙂 I wouldn’t call myself a writer, I’m only 17 by the way, I’m constantly making excuses to keep from writing. I guess it’s because I feel guilty because I’m supposed to do homework instead. The weird part is though, that I write the most during the exams, whilst I should be studying harder than usual. Also, I mostly write in English but I’m Belgian, which means I speak Dutch. I have no English relatives nor have I had any influences as a child, except for music maybe. Anyway, this particular post surely helped me with my perspective. Thank you!

  13. dirtyrottenparenting says:

    8 out of 11, but only if you substitute Balderdash for Scrabble and let me have my Settler’s nights.

    I’m better at clean, concise writing, so long emails aren’t my style – but I do take pride in clarity of expression so I’ll take a point for #1.

    Also, I’d rather write a full letter than a postcard so I think that gives me an extra point for #2.

    There…. now that’s 11 out of 11. Much better.

    Besides, I don’t care if coffee is an allowable expense, I’m still going to drink a lot of it.

  14. novauna says:

    I got a 7. Number 5 made me laugh because I was just talking about it to my husband yesterday. And I’m so guilty of number 4 and 7. My friends hate getting emails, texts and IM’s from me. I get “long-winded”

  15. Debbie Young says:

    10. But only because I’d never thought of Googling about the coffee! My WHOLE SHELF full of beautiful blank notebooks (hard-backed, spiral bound, always) waiting to be filled is testimony to my addiction to number 10. Because doesn’t buying a new notebook always make you write better? And my favourite souvenir from foreign holidays is, er, ballpoint pens – to write in the notebooks that I pack to take on holiday. Yep, I’m a writer all right!
    Great game – thanks, Catherine and Laura!

  16. juliegreenart says:

    1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 7, 10. And yet I still worry that I’m destined for something else, because more people in my life comment on my art and photography than my writing (and apart from blogging awards, I haven’t any awards for writing), but I guess that’s a harder one to appreciate, understand and/or get through when we’re a very visual society and it’s entirely subjective, or my self-doubt is dictating how others perceive me work (or I don’t write enough, but that’s why I’m blogging!). That and it all depends on your niche and who reads it. I just have to write. I want to be a writer. I admit it!

      • juliegreenart says:

        Another four:

        1/ Already mentioned: a love for libraries and old book shops, you can’t get me out of there and I usually go to buy a book and then realise I have too many to read already, so I just write down the authors names for later.

        2/ Anytime someone opens a birthday card from me, they’ll say ‘oh, it’s one of your essays again’… you will not ever get any less than 2 full pages in your card when it’s from me and I never understood why people wrote “To Bob, Happy Birthday, Love Aunty Boring”

        3/ I believed in letter-writing until I realised everyone stopped replying (it was all give and no return) except from one gorgeous boy who actually responded to my e-mails and letters. Intelligent guy 😉

        4/ You refuse to date anyone without a book shelf and you won’t date anyone with a fear of intelligence, learning or knowledge.

  17. catherinelumb says:

    9 out of 11. But that’s only because I don’t go anywhere to buy postcards of (I am the only one who still actually WRITES to my friends if they move away) and I already know I can expense tea and coffee 🙂
    It’s nice to hear about the cereal packet one…I never really owned up that one before because I honestly believed it was only me.
    Great post!

  18. Esther E. Hawkins says:

    Oh dear, mine was pretty low. I hope this isn’t a conclusive test 🙂 I’d say I’m between a comfortable 4 and 7 at a stretch but I’m answering it in reflection of my life right now. I think my answers would have been different a few years ago. Being at home with 3 little kids doesn’t leave much space for anything, especially reading for pleasure or writing anything other than grocery lists. I usually spend Friday nights folding laundry and the thought of writing postcards on holiday gives me a headache but I remember a time…. way back…. anyway, that time will come again. For now, I’ll content myself with reading ‘Diary of a Wimpy Kid’ to my six year old, and ‘Elmo’ to my one year old. Having said all that, I did just receive a copy of Mousetrapped that I’m pretty excited about. The laundry will just have to wait 🙂

  19. Lynn says:

    I would like to add to the list:

    –When you’re critiquing the works of fictional writers in movies or books.
    –When you’re composing little stories in your head about the people who pass by you on the street or in other public places.
    –When you squeal at the sight of Tintin’s collection of classic manual typewriters in the animated movie “The Adventures of Tintin.”
    –When you realize you have your own little collection of classic manual typewriters and don’t even feel ashamed that you’re going to spend more of your hard-earned money on yet another typewriter, because, let’s face it, it’s vintage Underwood and it’s freaking red!
    –When you can identify your favorite books just by smelling them (yeah, I do that).
    –When you get annoyed with people for mishandling alliteration.
    –When you imagine that you are offered one trip in a time machine, and you choose to go back to 1950s Oxford, England so you can eavesdrop on The Inklings as they meet in the Bird and Baby. (And if you know what I’m talking about, you definitely already have literary aspirations.)
    –When you feel more at home in a fictional place with fictional characters than you do in the real world with actual people.

  20. mandilynnwrites says:

    I always laugh when my friends see me writing a really done text message and they ask, “What, are you writing a novel?” I can always reply, “Yes, yes I am.”

  21. T.K. Marnell says:

    I’m iffy about #1. I know plenty of people who toss off very long emails, but they really, really shouldn’t become writers. I work with university faculty, and when you ask them to write a short piece for a webpage or a newsletter, they get back to you with a freaking dissertation. If an idea can be expressed in two words, they’ll figure out how to say it in twenty. Verbosity does not necessarily equal Good Writing.

    A little modification: “You bust out long emails without even flinching, and then you reread it and realize most of it is useless filler. So you chop it down, clean it up, and restructure it so people can actually read it.”

  22. Lori Jo says:

    Thank you, thank you! Needed this confirmation and “permission”, and I thought only I was being weird about it 😉 – 9 out of 11 for me – I will be embarking on a writing binge as soon as possible; turning 53 this summer, have to hurry up now that I’m closer to the end than the beginning, producing a published book is #1 on the bucket list 🙂

  23. rondaswolley says:

    Huh. Well – this is going to be kind of odd, but I got all eleven of the original (even the expense of coffee, though it was more generic in that I was looking up what things I could deduct from my taxes in general), and most of the add ons from the comments, but I am not a writer, LOL! I am a copy editor, so I read for a living, and while I did try to pursue writing at one time, I always got sidetracked into reading (and editing) other writer’s work instead of working on my own writing. This was an interesting post. Thanks for sharing.

  24. victoria says:

    OK, I agree with the majority of the points raised here. I love working things out with old skool paper and pen. A book and a lovely glass of Rose or a cup of tea, depending on the time, is the perfect way to unwind.

    I particularly find it hilarious when I read comments that are somethings longer than the actual post that has been commented on! We are all meant to be writers, and that sometimes includes hijacking someone elses blog post – Sorry 🙂

    Thanks for making me smile.

    • victoria says:

      Whoops – forgot to add, I arrived here via Carol’s Monthly Link Party – someone wrote a post and added a link which led me here.

      My Daily Cuppa.com

  25. rosedandrea says:

    1, 4, 5 (except it’s tea instead of wine), 6, 7, and 9 resonate with me.
    It’s really nice to know I’m not the only one! lol

    btw, I’m reblogging this. 🙂

  26. Aslaug Gørbitz says:

    I have to admit that I qualify on every point or a variation thereof. I don’t really like Monopoly or Settlers; I don’t really like scrabble either, however I really enjoy Video Adventure games like Siberia (can’t stand hidden object games, though). I guess because video adventure games are more interactive than reading and my sons love them.
    I lived for a while on a coffee farm, so coffee and I are joined on a very deep level.
    I love buying postcards, but then I hate parting with them, haha.

  27. Jojo says:

    Surprise surprise. None of the above. I score a big round ZERO. And yet I’m a writer. It’s in my soul. My story pours out of me like a sweet syrup running over the side of a hand-fired dessert bowl, spreading thickly and slowly across a polished table, inviting surprise and exclamation. I love to write, but nothing flippant or random. I leave that to visual expression through art.

  28. brainmusick says:

    Huh. I think I’m a writer in denial. I’ve always loved writing and as a child I wanted to be a writer, but then I tried it out and I didn’t think what I produced was very good so I never showed anyone. Is it possible to love writing but not be particularly good at it?

  29. Mia Jones says:

    8/11 – postcards have never been my thing as arrive back so late, cereal packets I don’t read as too busy eating the contents and not sure what the googling coffee meant? Does this confirm I’m not a writer?! 🙂 Love the fact blogs, quizzes etc like this get such a response, as an aspiring author I’m as guilty as most…why do writers seek to find confirmation for their passion, hobby, career? I constantly feel like I need to look for such confirmation when deep down I know I’ve always loved writing and always will, so as far as I should be concerned that makes me a writer, published author or not right??

  30. auntiejl says:

    10. I could say 9.5, because I don’t drink alcohol, but since I’ve thought about it, and I do occasionally pretend that my raspberry ice Crystal Light is a really nice red, I’m sticking with 10. And it’s only 10 because I don’t like tea or coffee. Substitute Dr Pepper in that, and yeah, I’d try to figure out a way to expense it.

  31. sowingmercy says:

    Well, all but “expense coffee/tea” only because I have made enough money to expense anything in terms of writing. When that day comes, I’ll look it up. Well, it’ll have to be chocolate, though.

  32. Her Grace says:

    10/11 Not a coffee/tea drinker, so I never googled it as a legitimate expense. Otherwise… you’ve pinged me.

    #3 sings to my soul every day.

    I once took a November off the Day Job so I could throw myself into NaNoWriMo. For that month, I was a professional novelist. Cranked out my wordage in the mornings, took care of other business (subbing shorts, research, etc) in the afternoon. Love it so much, I did it the next November.

    Now, if only I could do it all the months of the year.

  33. NS says:

    I was inwardly bloating like a balloon, as I read along and checked almost each point. And on the 10th point I was like wow there really are more stationary lovers out there!! I am not the only one. Bless you:)

  34. Navy Wife Chronicles says:

    THREE! Even after that dream was squashed right before college by my father saying, “No, you’re not going to be a writer.” My husband came along years later and said, “Why not?” Love this post and look forward to reading more.

  35. missdreamymarie says:

    LOVE this post! Ha! A common denominator seems to be Eight. I got 8 and may add 9 after I Google “Can I expense coffee?” 🙂 This is truly, a great encouragement. I have been battling with this concept of whether I am “qualified” to call myself a writer, especially on those bad/hard writing days. Thanks for this awesome post.

  36. Flora Tran says:

    So true… number 9… my eyes are usually glued to whatever words out there the street, from advertising boards to store names lol, and number 4… I can’t even imagine how I live without my trusty notebooks :))

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