Are You a Writer?

Every condition has symptoms. Here are some that may indicate you are a writer.

Everything around you makes you think of a storyline. You look at a ship in the harbour, and immediately wonder what it would be like if you were a customs officer inspecting a ship, and found a nuclear weapon.  You’re riding in the backseat of a friend’s car, and you wonder what if would be like if you were a wealthy entrepreneur being driven to meeting where you’d either become a billionaire, or lose the company you’d built from scratch. It never ends.

Once you have a story idea, you can’t relax until you start writing.  A story idea in a writer’s mind  is like a marble in a tin can, the irritating rattle won’t stop until you start writing. You probably have more story ideas than you can possibly work on at one time. One option is to write a brief outline of each idea and see where it leads; your intuition will guide you to the story idea that has the greatest potential. Just the process of recording story ideas and making a decision really helps.

You remember the names of characters better than the names of real people. If I meet someone today, there’s a very good chance I’ll almost immediately forget it, but I can remember the names of characters from stories I wrote years ago. It may be that when you’re writing, you repeat a character’s name over and over again in your head.  It’s also possible that you associate a character’s name with very strong emotions, because of what happens to a character in a story.

You find it extremely frustrating to watch writers accepting awards.  If you watch someone holding a winning lottery ticket, there’s no personal connection, it’s pure math; so many tickets were issued, someone had to win, it was that guy or girl. There was nothing the person standing before you could possibly do to improve the odds, other than spending a lot of money on tickets. It doesn’t indicate any talent or intelligence. The writer accepting an award, however has followed the same process as you; start with great story ideas, write, have your work rejected, keep writing, and repeat until you’re standing at the podium accepting the award.  (Why haven’t I won any awards? How about that weather…..)

I should warn you, if you are a Writer, the condition is permanent.

J. Paul Cooper





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