There is this line I love from the move Sister Act 2. Whoopi Goldberg’s character, Sister Mary Clarence, is talking to Lauryn Hill’s character, Rita, about whether or not she should become a singer. She says, “If you wake up in the morning, and you can’t think of anything but singing, then you should be a singer, girl.”
There was a time, back in the Dark Ages, when all I could think about was writing. I’d wake up and want to write. I’d stay up late because I had to write. I’d had a bad day and needed to write about it to get it to go away. Who needs a therapist? Writing is great therapy! But I didn’t think of myself as a writer. Not until my dad died and I realized, that’s what I wanted to be. Only, isn’t that what I had been all along?
So, I thought I’d give you a list of
symptoms ways to tell if you are a writer in the style of a Twisted Writer.
1. If you hear voices in your head and you talk to them, you might be a writer. Or crazy. Possibly both.
2. If the voices talk back to you and have long conversations and you type those conversations down, you might be a writer trying to prove you aren’t crazy.
3. If you have ever been told that you live in a fantasy world and you smile and tell them “I know, I created it, wanna come play in it too?”, you might be a writer.
4. If you see the word “writing prompt” and your heart starts to beat faster, you might be a writer. If it doesn’t, what the heck is wrong with you??? How can that NOT make your pulse race? Word prompts are sexy beasts!
5. If you joined a group that hears voices too and call themselves a “writing critique group”, congratulations! You have found your “tribe.” You might be a writer, or living in an asylum. Look out your window. Are there bars across it?
6. If you have ever thought about writing someone who’s ticked you off into a story and then offing them in some sick and twisted way, you might be a retaliating writer.
7. If you walk into a store (perhaps Wal-mart) and thought “that was a nightmare,” you might consider writing a horror story.
8. If you REALLY love anything geeky, trendy, or weird and you write a story about it, you might be writing fanfic. (Please take ten steps back and away from the keyboard. No! Don’t grab that pen and paper! Put it down right now! Don’t you write another sentence! Crap. Another 50 Tones of That Somber Color book just hit the shelves.)
9. If you see incorrect spelling, punctuation and/or grammar in a book and you want to correct it, you might a be Grammar Nazi. You should think about being a copy-editor.
10. If you have ever read a horrible book and thought “I can write better than that,” you might be a new writer. Go find your tribe and bleed ink.
11. If you see something really funny and say, “that’d make a great story,” you should sit your butt down at a keyboard (or use paper and pen if you’re a traditionalist) and start writing.
12. If you sit down to write at your computer for an hour and find yourself wasting 45 minutes on social media and 15 minutes actually writing, you are definitely a writer. And procrastinating. Stop and get back to writing or I’ll send AJ over to hurt you. She may be little, but she is fierce. (Why yes, that is cribbed Shakespeare.)
13. If you have ever written a scene where the character is having a drink and thought “that sounds good” then stopped writing to fix yourself one, you might be a writer. (And on your way to becoming an alcoholic-remember, writing while drinking is NOT a good habit-funny as hell the next day, but it does not help your writing.)
14. If you have a cat that laid on your keyboard and deleted your entire story, you might want to back up the story in a lot of different places. You’ll thank me later. And if you kept the cat, you might be a cat-loving writer.
15. If you have ever put your character in time out, you might be writing angry. You might need to take a time-out, too.
16. If you keep an online journal and make it public, you are a blogger. Claim it, own it, wear your colors proudly. Tell a saucy tale, make a little stir, customers appreciate a bon-viveur…(sorry, couldn’t help the Les Mis outburst.)
17. If you go to a movie and spot the plot holes, you might be a writer. If you write about it, you’re a movie critic, and I have a few words for you about a certain movie you didn’t like.
18. If you wake up in the middle of the night and find your spouse at their laptop typing madly while talking to themselves with a wild look in their eyes and hair all a-mess, you might be married to a writer with a deadline.
19. If the sight of a blank page makes your fingers itch and a nerve over your eye begin to twitch, you might be a writer. You might also be freaking out. Breathe. A blank page is easily fixed.
20. If you wake up in the morning and all you can think about it is writing, you’re supposed to be a writer.
Neil Gaiman, in an interview while filming the BBC television version for Neverwhere, said that he was the only one who could tell the stories he had to tell. In the introduction to his short story compilation Fragile Things, he said:
“Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds’ eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas-abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken-and what could be more frail than that?”
To be a writer is to have people and worlds and conversations living in your brain that only you know. And you are the only one who can tell them and tell them as only you can. If you don’t write them, no one else will, because no one else is you. When you are gone, your stories are gone as well. Don’t let your stories go unheard.
You are a writer; tell your stories.
Write them into life.