We writers are peculiar people. Here are 24 unorthodox ways to tell if you, too, might be a writer.
Over the years, I’ve written about hundreds of ways to tell if you are a writer. You can read about them all through the links at the bottom of this article.
I’ve pulled together 24 of the most unorthodox ways of identifying a writer into the infographic below. If these describe you, beware – you might be a writer. If you recognize these signs in anybody around you, please be gentle – it’s not their fault. They were born that way.
Infographic – 24 unorthodox signs that you might be a writer
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1. You always proofread the menu when ordering
Words are everywhere. And no matter where they are, a writer is always reading them with a critical eye. The worst thing about menus is the usually weak story line. No worries, a true writer can at least proofread the menu. Besides, would you really want to eat spinach soufflé craps?
2. The pharmacy lists BLOCK CAPS among your allergies
A writer is a sensitive creature. Not only does text in all caps shout at people, but it also offends the writer’s sensibilities for proper capitalization. If you know a writer, double-check that you have caps lock turned off. Else, you might be the one sending your writer friend to the pharmacy.
3. You rise in church to correct the preacher’s grammar
Writing is a higher calling. It’s almost a religion. A dedicated writer knows how important it is that God’s message be delivered with correct grammar, as would be fitting an occasion so important. No priest, minister, imam or rabbi is above the critical ears and helpful suggestions of the writer in the congregation.
4. You often wake up late at night with your head on your keyboard
It’s almost cliché how writers burn the midnight oil. One wonders how productive a writer can be at that hour. Well, now we know.
5. Your search history could launch a federal investigation.
In fact, a writer’s search history is a testament to how little they know about where to bury a body or how to set off a string of explosives. Writers don’t want violence in the real world, but they love it in their stories.
6. More than a dozen dictionaries are sitting on your desk
A writer can never have too many dictionaries. When one doesn’t give you the answer you want, you consult the next one. Sooner or later, you get what you want. Or you go back and replace that word you’ve misused a few dozen times in a few dozen chapters.
7. Several members of your household are imaginary
Have you ever noticed how writers seem to be talking to themselves? Well, looks can be deceiving. They are most likely talking to the characters they are writing about. It is important to get to know one’s character really, really well, so you might have to share space with these imaginary household members for a long time.
8. You pray for red lights to give you a chance to jot down notes
This is the Catch-22 every writer faces. When sitting at one’s desk, that “writer’s block” cone-of-silence descends. But while showering, trying to fall asleep, at Thanksgiving dinner with the whole family or driving, ideas swarm a writer dozens at a time. At least while driving, a writer can hope for a red light reprieve.
9. You plan to visit Oxford to see the famous comma.
This, sadly, might be a disappointing pilgrimage. It appears – and this caught me by surprise, too – that there is no “Oxford comma” to visit. It turns out that the Oxford comma is just a name for redundant punctuation mandated by the Oxford Style Guide (hence the name).
10. You still write lunchbox notes for the kids after 27 years
Writing is such a hard habit to break. And why would anybody want to stop writing, anyway?
11. You carry a dozen back-up pens, just in case
You can never have too many pens. There is always something to write, and you never know when one pen (or two, or three, or…) will run out of ink. Better to die with an extra dozen pens on your person than to find yourself without one at any time – especially if you happen to be a writer.
12. You love skyscrapers because they have the most stories
This is a pun. Yes, you can take it literally. Or you can take it figuratively. The more stories a building has, the more people can live or work there. And the more people there are, the more stories they create. So, in a manner of speaking, skyscrapers really do have more stories. And writers love stories.
13. Somebody digging makes you wonder if there’s a body in there
If there is one thing everybody writes about sooner or later, it’s burying a body. That’s why their search histories are always so incriminating.
However, this might not be such a surefire sign that you’re a writer. After all, readers might well be thinking the same thing.
14. You sort your refrigerator in alphabetical order
This can’t be helped. Writers work with words. You can’t organize a refrigerator chronologically. You can’t organize a refrigerator by character archetypes. Alphabetical is all a writer has left to create literary structure from the chaos of the refrigerator.
15. You’ve called 9-1-1 to report split infinitive.
This is serious business. When you break a grammar rule, somewhere a writer writhes in pain. To not report a split infinitive would be…oops.
16. You ask Santa for a new Thesaurus because your old one is used up
This is not a sign of being a writer; it’s a sign of being a seasoned writer. Most writers will begin by using the 42,000 words they already know.
But after a while, that gets repetitive. So they break out the Thesaurus. That opens up 443,000 words. But what can a writer do when they’ve used all those words up? Get a new Thesaurus, of course!
17. Your library card always wears out before it expires
It takes a lot to wear out a library card. You would probably have to take out books dozens of times a day to wear it out before it expires. Isn’t that just like a writer? Books for leisure. Books for research. Books for … just for the smell of them.
18. Your favorite animal is a bee, because it spells so well
Ha, ha. This one is a joke. Get it?
19. People cringe at your 17-page thank-you notes
Writers do love to write. And they can get carried away. Please read past all the words and get the message. Thank you.
20. You’ve set up a fan site for a punctuation mark
If you are a writer, you probably have strong opinions on punctuation marks. Some you hate. Some you love. So, why not set up a fan site for your favorite punctuation mark? It will be less disappointing than making that pilgrimage to see the famous Oxford comma.
21. You have reading glasses in every room
Nothing is more frustrating than having a great idea and not being able to write it down.
You have a pen in every room.
You have a notepad in every room.
But what good are they without your reading glasses?
22. You’ve petitioned for proper punctuation on stop signs.
Let’s face it, your local municipal council won’t win any Pulitzer prizes, despite all the writing they spread across town. You can help! Petitions are a great way to tell your local politicians how you really feel – that stop signs and other traffic signs deserve proper punctuation, so that they might contend for a Pulitzer Prize one day.
23. You add footnotes to your love letters
The thing about love letters is that they tug at your heart. They play to your emotions. You just can’t trust them – they could be written by any con artist.
Just as when you write a report at work or an article for a scientific journal, you want your love letters to be believable. You want them backed up with facts, fully sourced with credible citations. Who could resist a person who obviously cares so much as to substantiate one’s “I shall love you forever” and “I see deep into your heart”?
24. A typewriter keeps chasing you in your dreams
A writer never really sleeps. When not nodding off on one’s keyboard, a writer lies awake in bed. Thinking. Creating. Dreaming.
Dreaming of things related to writing, of course. One of my favorites is being chased by a typewriter. And yes, I am old enough to remember what a typewriter looks like.
So, are you a writer?
These are wonderful clues to help you determine if you are a writer. Or to help you identify writers lurking in your household or at the grocery store. After all, those sneaky wordsmiths could be hiding just about anywhere.
If these indicators aren’t enough, don’t worry. I provide several more pages of ways to identify writers at the links below:
- 54 ominous signs that you might be a writer
- 52 signs that you might be a writer
- 51 signs that you might be a writer
- 52 signs that you might be a writer
- 56 signs that you might be a writer
- 54 signs that you might be a writer
- 51 traits you need most to be a writer
- 55 signs you might be a writer (or writers)