“If you’re a writer, you’re never retired by someone else. You not only keep going, but the very art of writing helps keep you alive.”
– Sol Stein
Some select traits of a writer include:
- Keen observation of events, people, conversations, and circumstances and color.
- Do you find yourself mentally composing a narrative about your last fishing trip, hike in the hills, an historical landmark, family event, trip to the library, or holiday that will provide your readers with an “aha!” moment of recognition or connection?
- Do you carry pen and paper or another recording device with you everywhere to jot down that fleeting thought or inspiration before it vanishes for all eternity?
- Do you devour books and revel in good writing like a starving man in a five-star all-you-can-eat buffet?
- Do you have an “ear” for fine writing? I’m not talking dime store stuff or trashy “romances.” I’m not even talking “bestseller’ status, but fine literature that’s stood the test of time: Dickens, Elliot, Dinesen, Twain, Dostoevsky,etc.?
- Do you understand what makes “great literature” great, how it works and why?
- Do you have an insatiable curiosity?
- Are you constantly looking for ways to learn and grow as a writer?
- Most real writers are also voracious readers. If “what are you reading these days?” elicits a shoulder shrug or a deer-in-the-headlights-looks from your “writer” friend, chances are you’re talking to a dabbler or a pretender, not the Real Deal.
“I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run, I feel His pleasure.” – Eric Liddell
Ability and skill can be learned, developed, and practiced. These are all well and good and appropriate. But IMHO, what sets a Real Writer apart from a Writer Wannabee is attitude. In other words: were you born to be a writer?
Writing is a gift to be treasured, honed, polished, and yes, shared. It’s what keeps you banging away at the keyboard when everyone else is watching the play-offs. It’s what awakens you at two in the morning with an aha! inspiration. Writing is to a writer what a crate of PennZoil is to NASCAR, what air is to land mammals.
Who Are You?
Let me ask: Were you born to be a writer?
One way to find out is to look at your approach to writing. Do you have a “take it or leave it” attitude, or is writing your reason to get up in the morning? Is writing something you fall into when you don’t have anything better to do? A way to kill time or fill up your calendar? An amusement or hobby? Or is writing something you crave like that extra slice of raspberry white chocolate cheesecake? Do you carve time out of your busy schedule to write on a regular basis? Is writing part and parcel of your creative DNA? Your personality? Artistic fingerprint? Are you incomplete without it? In other words, is writing who you are?
Being a real writer is a lifelong calling. It has you preoccupied and passionate, cantankerous and content, frustrated and fulfilled. It’s a wild and wonderful ride that can only be fully understood by another writer.
You know who you are.