Thursday, October 24, 2013

You Know You're a Writer If...

We've all seen the lists before.  "You Know You're a Writer If..." and then a joke about caffeine addiction.  Below, you'll find my personal quirks and reasons that peg me into the writerly box.  (Caffeine addiction is not one of them.  Yes, I down as much as 4 or 5 cups of coffee in a day, but as far as I can tell, so do accountants.  And nurses.  And, well, adults.)


1) You see a person talking to themselves on the street, and your first thought is: "Perhaps they're speaking with an invisible spirit that's charging them with an impossible quest."

True story.  The other night I was driving home from work and saw a woman who kept turning to the person next to her and aruging with them.  Except, there was no one next to her.  I'm pretty sure she just had some issues going on, but was that my first thought?  Of course not!

2) The playlists on your iPod aren't titled things like "Summer 2011" or "Driving Mix", but "Battle Scene" and "Book 2" and "Character Theme Songs."

Even though I listen to white noise rather than music when I'm writing, I love making playlists to help keep the inspiration going at times when I can't write. Which is why, if you're driving next to me, you might see me slicing an invisible sword across my dashboard, or weeping into my steering wheel as I imagine the death of one of my favorite supporting characters.

3) Similar to your iPod, your computer desktop is cluttered with 100 different files, all of which
 are documents, all of which have names like "Book 2," "Book2 Take 2", "Book2 3," "Book2 IT WILL NEVER BE FINISHED," and on and on and on...

I am super paranoid about editing a single file over and over and over. I have a fear that I will either accidentally delete something, or purposely edit something out, only to realize 8 months later it was the perfect scene and can never be replicated. So anytime I have an idea that doesn't fit seamlessly into my current draft, I hit select all, copy, and paste that sucker into a new file. Rinse & repeat. Like eight thousand times. A sub-quirk to this quirk is I often get create with file names to help make them more distinguishable, which means I have drafts of my novel with proper file names like "Untitled Novel, Draft 2" and then other copies with names like "Pumpkin Puppy Face Also This is A Book."

4) You refuse to upgrade to anything past Word 97. You have ordered old copies of Word 97 off Ebay to achieve this. When Mac stopped recognizing PowerPC programs, you switched to OpenOffice because it's the closest thing you can get.

This is a true story. I've been writing in Word 97 for the past 16 years. Ain't nothing gonna break my stride. Nobody's gonna slow me down, oh no. Especially not the disorienting look of a brand new program. When I close my eyes and imagine myself writing a book, the program on the screen is Word 97. And so you will have to pry Word 97 (or the OpenOffice equivalent) out of my cold, dead hands. We'll all have computers embedded in our eyeballs and I will still be writing on the same word processing program.

This girl isn't pissed off, she's
pondering a plot twist!
5) Let's not forget "Writer's Face." Often confused with Bitchy Resting Face, Writer's Face is the vacant, slightly peeved look one achieves when your body is sitting at Starbucks, but your mind is helping your MC pick the lock to the cellar they've been imprisoned in.

I am a proud sufferer of Writer's Face.

So, what are YOUR writing quirks? (Or reading quirks. They often go hand-in-hand!)


  1. My writer's face is often accompanied by my husband asking, "What was that look for?" Which usually brings me out of my trance with a shrug, knowing that I probably won't be able explain it anyways! One of my quirks is the need to stop and analyze anything that has caught my eye to see how many ways I can describe it (sometimes quietly in my head but I have caught myself mumbling out loud). I want to absorb it so that the next time I'm writing a scene that includes the item (a leaf, person, building, sign post, animal, car, crack in the sidewalk...) I have something very specific to start with!

  2. Love these. Here are some of mine:

    1. Pausing upon seeing a group circling hawks and feeling like there must be a novel there somewhere.

    2. Translating all life into an internal written narrative.

    3. Filling up my mobile Notes app with possible sentences, starters, titles.

    4. Staring oddly at your waiter, trying to figure out what this story would be if he were the main character.

    5. Quickly jotting down perfect banter after being stuck in an elevator with some awesomely stereotypical teens, ranting about their friends showing up late and in leggings when they promised they would wear shorts.

    5. Falling asleep every night in another world, as another person.

  3. I enact scenes from my story (as well as from real life), and I get carried away - and forget where I am. Once someone caught me doing it. Boy, was that embarrassing.


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