You know you’re a writer when…


I thought I’d have a little fun today so I gave myself an hour to come up with as many different situations I could think of when you know you’re a writer. So, you know when you’re a writer when…

  1. Every argument you have becomes fodder for your WIP, but smarter, snappier and with you winning.
  2. You would rather spend time on your WIP than do work that pays more in a day than you book will likely earn in a month.
  3. You love every part of your WIP.
  4. You hate every part of your WIP.
  5. You know what WIP means.
  6. You stop a conversation mid-sentence to write down a plot point that’s just occurred to you.
  7. You cannot stop thinking about your novel. Ever. Even in your dreams.
  8. You know your main character better than your best friend.
  9. You have conversations with your characters in your head.
  10. Your friends stop asking about how your latest book’s going.
  11. You visit a beautiful park and wonder how you can squeeze the location into your novel.
  12. You’re on the suspect lists of law enforcement and intelligence agencies across the world due to your Google search history.
  13. Putting your feet up and staring out of the window are considered work.
  14. When something exciting happens you immediately create a mental checklist of how it felt, smelled, tasted, looked and sounded.
  15. You cringe every time you read a sentence containing an adverb, even when its use is perfectly reasonable. Including this sentence.
  16. You find yourself mentally editing a passage you’ve just read. In a published book. By a prize-winning author.
  17. You give character’s names that relate to people you know, in a way only you would recognise, then kill them off.
  18. You laugh to yourself whenever you read the part where the above character dies.
  19. Backache is a constant companion.
  20. You treat going to the bathroom as a reward.
  21. You know at least twenty alternatives to the word ‘look’.
  22. You growl each time you type the word ‘that’.
  23. You can be disappointed after writing 2000 words in a day, yet delighted on another day with just 200 words.
  24. You ignore every line in a flattering review except the one that starts ‘my only issue with the book is…’.
  25. When talking with friends, you mentally rework anything you say that ends in a preposition.
  26. You know every aspect of a town you’ve never visited.
  27. You have files full of first drafts of work – on your computer, on bookshelves or in the loft – that you will never, ever look at.
  28. You are the ‘pro’ in procrastination.
  29. You look up from your laptop after writing a particularly intense scene to find the whole coffee shop staring at you.
  30. You laugh whenever friends tell you they are too busy to do something.
  31. All of your friends think you sit around doing nothing, even when your ebook is published, yet look at you in admiration when they get their hands on your paperback.
  32. You cannot read your own work, even after it’s published, without editing it in your head.
  33. Instead of getting angry when somebody insults you, you appreciate their unique terminology and note it down for later use.
  34. You find yourself cursing out loud when something happens in a book / TV series / movie identical to something you’ve written months earlier but have yet to publish.
  35. Your friends start to worry what they tell you will end up in your next book.
  36. Your friends recognise conversations in your latest book.
  37. For every story you’re working on, there are one hundred others jostling for your attention.
  38. You use the same word repeatedly in a conversation over a short space of time only to never use it again.
  39. You look for subtext in every conversation.
  40. You throw a book across the room wondering how such rubbish could ever get published.
  41. You throw a book across the room knowing you could never write so beautifully.
  42. You can spend an hour editing a sentence in multiple ways to make it perfect, only to realise the final version is the same as what you started with.
  43. You classify reading this list as ‘research’.
  44. Your friends look at you funny because they’ve just read that scene in your latest book.
  45. You feel guilty spending time with your family because you should be writing your WIP.
  46. You spend an hour editing an email because ‘the pacing was wrong’.
  47. On bad days you include tweets as part of your word count.
  48. You organise a family day out so you can visit a setting for your latest book.
  49. You mentally divide the world into writers and everybody else.
  50. You know that even if you never write another word again, you will always view the world as a writer.

OK, I admit it took me a little longer than an hour (80 minutes to be exact), but that’s my list. What have I missed? What things do you find yourself doing that only writers do? I’d love to hear from you.

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103 thoughts on “You know you’re a writer when…

  1. Every massive, unexpected bill that lands on the mat results in somebody in your life asking, ‘don’t you think it’s time you got a “proper job”?’

  2. I think I’ll steal this. Use most of the thoughts, add a few others, but call it, ‘you know you’re an editor, when …’
    Because, they aren’t too different at all. Except, I won’t use 50, uh, because … I edit.

  3. What a great blog post! I, too, started thinking you had my house bugged. Here are some more to add to your already amazing list.

    You know you’re a writer when…
    Backs of receipts, paper napkins, and scraps of paper are seen as places to work out the details of your WIP.
    Stopping in traffic for a train is more time for you to scribble ideas in your notebook.
    Passages in music inspire story ideas.
    You go to bed sad because you can’t keep writing and wake up excited because you can keep writing.
    Your laundry pile is brushing against the ceiling.
    When people can’t find the right word in a conversation, you become a thesaurus and rattle off ten suggestions.
    You catch yourself correcting other people’s use of the English language (in your head).

  4. Reblogged this on writertales and commented:
    I read this completely marvelous blog post today and felt I had to share it. This is a must read for all writers.

  5. You know you’re a writer when… one of your favourite writerly bloggy buddies crafts an absurdly brilliant, witty, sharply observed and generally totally magnificent blog post that you just wish wish wish you’d written yourself … and you’re caught between feeling awed by their precision and talent, and jealous in a deeply unattractive, green-eyed monsterish way, that you didn’t think of it first!

    If it’s ok with you, I’ll be re-blogging this tomorrow morning. By that time, I should have recovered my sense of morality, ethics and personal dignity sufficiently that I will no longer be tempted by thoughts of passing it off as my own. 😉 😉 😉

  6. Reblogged this on Julie Lawford and commented:
    You know you’re a writer when… one of your favourite writerly bloggy buddies crafts an absurdly brilliant, witty, sharply observed and generally totally magnificent blog post that you just wish wish wish you’d written yourself … and you’re caught between feeling awed by their precision and talent, and jealous in a deeply unattractive, green-eyed monsterish way, that you didn’t think of it first…

  7. Am reading this list in bed, in the dark instead of getting up and writing before child wakes to another damned snow day! I am the pro in procrastination. (And yes, I am totally stealing that phrase!)

      • Sadly, the automatic alert system notifying us of a school closing typically goes off at 5:30 a.m. It cares nothing for my mental health, otherwise it wouldn’t make me keep my child home.

  8. Oh god, you do make me hurt – laughter, self loathing, horror. I daren’t let my family see this. I suppose the one I’d add is you lie about why you’re on the phone/tablet/other mobile device, writing down an idea over dinner/school play/own wedding with the explanation ‘it’s the bank/only client/my mother who is demanding money/threatening to sue/eating my father. I too will reblog. Thanks for the smiles, Dylan. Now get back to part three…

  9. I’m guilty of many of these. My daughter weed on me once while sitting on my shoulders in a supermarket. I made a conscious effort to remember exactly how this unpleasant event felt; one day I’ll find a way to use it.

    • That’s a great story (obviously, not such a great experience). You’ve just brought back memories of the first few years of my eldest son’s life. If he was ill, it was always over me. Always. My wife found it hilarious.

  10. The further down the list I got the more I was torn between insane laughter and the twitchy feeling you get when you -know- someone has been watching you. >.> <..>

  11. Hi, Dylan. Any chance you’ve formed a support group for people who have above average hits on the list? (and incidentally, is there an average we could benchmark against?) I’m just wondering, because my eyes started watering after I read 3, 4 and 5…

    Thanks for a great post. Brightened my evening 😀

  12. I never know what I will find in my e;mails, but today I found your list. I was nodding like one of those stupid toys you see in the backs of cars, at every single thing on that list. Guess that makes me a writer then, I kinda thought I was. Nothing to add, as you seem to have nailed it! Thanks for cheering up my Sunday morning!

  13. Thank you so much for this! I’m quite new to being an author, but I recognize so many of these!

    If you don’t mind, I would like to copy this one to my own blog and add some more that I feel should be there.
    I will of course put your name there and link it to your blog.

    – Winny

    • It can feel that way, sometimes. Just keep plugging away. You’ll soon get that down from a year to six months, then 1 month, then a week, and eventually a day. 🙂

  14. Hilarious!
    You know you are a writer:
    When you are secretly excited that Netflix stopped working and your husband does the chores because he has nothing else to do (which means you can keep writing).
    You sit out on the patio in your bathrobe for most of the day happily typing away because you are in the midst of the best writing session ever.
    You stare off into space as if you have catatonia, living in a world that only exists in your mind and on paper.
    You convince yourself the weeds in the garden are only unappreciated plants, and when the book is done, you will get to them.
    The people you work with know your WIP word count, and ask for a daily update.

    • I love these! Staring off into space is one I’ve been doing since as long as I’ve been able to hold a pencil in my hand. The only difference now is that I write down (some of) my thoughts.

  15. Have you been spying on me and jotting down my habits? I tell you, it is like you have visited my brain, scanned it and transcribed it in detail.

  16. Just this afternoon I discussed # 2 with my husband stating that was what I was shooting for. He wants to buy a new car – I don’t because it will prevent that from becoming real’ ~Elle

    • It can be tough for our other halves to understand what drives us to put so much effort into something that may never generate much income in return. They see it as poor prioritisation whereas I see it as staving off madness 😉

      • Yes! Yes! Yes! Because sometimes I feel as though I’ll go mad if I don’t get a block of time just to write! H thinks that’s all I ever do because after the day is over and he is home is when I finally have a bit of time to open up my laptop. He sees that as all I ever do is write while those little elves have worked their butts off all day doing my ‘paying’ job -can’t help I have a work from home job – and doing necessary house chores and all else that is thrown in my lap because I’m at home all day! Lol! Sorry for the venting. I see a new blog post in this Dylan. ~Elle

  17. An incredibly insightful list…I scored high on it and am guilty (but don’t feel it) of many of these. I sneak away for evenings in the library just to get away from the blaring TV and constant demands of this, that and the other from family members. Does this make me a bad person or a fantastic writer? I think the latter.
    Love this list and congratulations on its creation.

    • It’s funny, I was just thinking about writing a post asking if writing is a selfish act (not to be confused with writers being selfish) and then you write this comment echoing my thoughts. I’m glad you enjoyed the list 🙂

  18. I love this list!

    The only thing you need to learn now is to put your periods INSIDE your quotation marks. 😉
    For example, when you are talking about a “quote.”
    (Notice how I placed the period in the right spot?)
    Yeah, spoken by a true editor.

    • Ha ha! Yes, this is true. I’d love to say I did it on purpose to see who spotted it first (congratulations!) but the reality is that I write my posts quickly with a quick proof and then publish. It’s my compromise to prevent the procrastination monster from keeping me focused on my blog instead of my latest WIP. 🙂

      • LOL. I bet you’ll be more conscious of putting those periods in the right spot now!

        FYI, a simple “search and replace” can work wonders, too. 😉

        Little tips like this make the proofing process easier. 🙂

  19. Great post. After 4 years of working on my novel, it would appear that I am a writer! I can relate to so many of these…and to one of the points above, yes I do feel I am becoming selfish at the moment because all I want to do is spend time in my fictional world – it beats real-life issues you want to ignore. Thanks

  20. Pingback: Interview with Author Dylan Hearn | Sacha Black

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