Writers are strange animals. They’re solitary mammals, prone to long stretches of hibernation unrelated to weather conditions. Generally, they’re pale, wear glasses, and for some reason I’ve never been able to figure out, tend to wear flamboyant hats. What’s up with that?
If you suspect there’s a writer gene in your DNA, here’s a surefire test that doesn’t require a blood draw or even a swab of the inside of your mouth.
1. You kill off your imaginary playmates.
Authors invent people. You craft words to connect readers to your characters, pulling at their heartstrings, making them best buddies. Then all for the sake of story, you take those imaginary friends and ramp up the catastrophes. Bam. Bam. Bam. All leading to a horrific climax.
“Meet Susan. She’s blonde, friendly, the girl next door with good dental hygiene. Her freckles are endearing and she helps little old ladies across the street. Everyone loves Susan.
Whoopsidoodle! A Mack truck just hit Susan. Her dog died. And now there’s a one-armed stalker with an eye patch who wants to drink her blood. Poor, poor Susan.”
2. Your skill at lying is exceeded only by those in Washington.
Writers get paid to tell whoppers, kind of like attorneys, only without the debt of law school. It’s an author’s job to convince others of the plausibility of their story, to pull the reader into a whole new world—one they can taste, touch, and smell. Remember Susan? Yeah. Enough said.
3. You’re an über-frustrated control freak.
You sit around all day, controlling what your characters say and wear, manipulating how they act and feel. You are god of your fictional realm. Nothing happens unless you make it so.
Enjoy the feeling, minion, because when you surface from storyland, you don’t get to control reviews, contracts, publisher advances, or book placement, and you’re at the complete mercy of the Amazon recommendation algorithm.1
4. You long for a raging bout of tinnitus just to shut up the voices in your head for a while.
When you’re asked about where you get your story ideas, you respond with, “I just listen to the voices in my head.” At least that’s how you answer the first time. After you’ve been scarred by the horrified face-twisting that answer produces, you learn to reply, “Oh, here and there.”
But that does nothing to clamp the lips of the story Sirens tempting you to listen to the best plot idea in the history of mankind. And don’t bother buying the sound-cancelling earbuds. They don’t work.
5. You fly your freak flag high.
Hey, if being nutty-nuts was good enough for Tolstoy, Hemingway, and Poe, you’re all for it. Besides which, you know you’re not batty, bonkers, or berserk. You’re eccentric.
Any one of these symptoms gonging a bell in your head and heart? If so, guess what. Yep. You’re a writer, Hoss, and/or possibly psychotic. Don’t worry, though. In this day of political correctness, no one will dare label you a nut job for fear of a lawsuit.
Like what you read? There’s more. WRITER OFF THE LEASH: GROWING IN THE WRITING CRAFT is a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn’t know how to take their writing to the next level.
What crazy writerly things do you do?
Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. Follow her adventures and find out about upcoming new releases at her blog, Writer Off the Leash, or stop by her website. You can also find her at the usual haunts of Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.