This is a list started by a student in one of my Beginning Writers Workshops. (Was that you, Gullie?) Many class sessions have been invited to add to this list, and these are some of the best. You might even recognize one or two of your own! I hope you will add some more.
You Know You’re a Writer When…
1. You edit and revise your grocery list.
2. You stop in the middle of an argument with your spouse to jot down a great piece of dialogue.
3. You cross out the new watch on your birthday wish list and replace it with new ink cartridges and 12 reams of paper.
4. Strangers ask you why you are staring at them in coffee shops and want to know what the heck you’re writing in that little notebook.
5. You re-read “Pride and Prejudice” and evaluate the verbs.
6. You tell your friends that your favorite way to relax is galumphing. The men look at you with a new respect and your women friends check it out on Google.
7. You drop dead of a heart attack and while looking for identification, all the paramedics can find are little slips of paper in your pockets with words like: gravel, Martha, scorpion, tornado.
8. Your spouse reports that on more than one occasion, you sat bolt upright in bed and shouted, “I know what I need to change.”
9. You start editing your day planner to give it a better plot.
10. You scan the employee database at work to look for good character names.
11. Your friends are starting to whisper about your thousand-yard stare.
12. You decline social invitations because you have a date…with your muse.
13. You’re having many more fights with your teenagers about who gets the computer.
14. You’re looking forward to the next big snow storm so you can go stand at a bus stop in open toe heels and a thin coat so you can experience how Martha felt.
15. Your kids are cooking dinner (for once!), and they yell, “HURRY, turn that computer OFF!” and you think, “Just one more paragraph, then I’ll go see what caught fire.”
16. You pray for red lights while driving so you can jot down your newest ideas without having to pull over.
17. When the bathroom reading material includes a Thesaurus and “Elements of Style.”
18. Your characters are more interesting than your friends.
19. Only now, your old high school English teacher appears to make some sense.
20. You read cereal boxes and try to figure out the point of view.
21. You just read a best-seller, and the author says it took 15 years to complete. You wonder how she did it so quickly.
22. The note your child brings home from school is returned to the teacher marked in red for character development and plot structure.
23. Next time you see a red leaf, you take a good, long look.
24. You try out story ideas on your cats and wait for them to comment.
25. When you start your business letters with: Dear Mr. Thomas, Thank you for referring Mrs. Smith, who, aided by her walking stick, slowly hobbled up the stairs to my office today. She took her time maneuvering the revolving doors, before stepping into the reception area with beads of perspiration on her brow and a smile that matched her bright floral dress.