A while back, we had a little fun on the blog talking about the weird things we writers (and would-be writers) do that make our friends, spouses and children wonder about us.
In the comments, there were some, “Yeah, I do that, too,” and “Have you been spying on me?”
As I thought about it, more ‘crazy writer’ behaviors popped into my head. If you are a published author, an aspiring writer, or newbie, you may recognize these warning signs. Some may be just my personal idiosyncrasies (because, really, who else makes candles talk?) and others may haunt you from time to time, too.
Here they are then:
11 More Signs You May be a Writer
1. You forget how many tablespoons you’ve already put in the coffeemaker.
I put in one tablespoon (or was it two?) when a fabulous idea for a new story pops into my brain. I look into the innards of the coffeemaker, trying to guess where I was in the measuring. But, of course, I can’t tell. So I have to dump it out and start over. The other day, I even knocked the open container of newly filled Starbucks dark roast blend on the floor.
We go through a lot of coffee in our house.
2. You obsess over the deleted scenes in your movie CDs.
I can’t watch deleted scenes without puzzling over them. Why was this particular scene cut out? It illuminates the craziness of that character. And that is essential to the plot.
Bob refuses to watch deleted scenes with me.
3. You say, “That’s nice” at inappropriate times.
This one happens to me when I am thinking about my story instead of listening to what someone is saying to me.
Case in point: When I was teaching first graders, I was writing children’s books. One day, one of my students tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Mrs. Dunn, did you know that my brother broke his leg?”
In my absentminded writer mode, as I was turning my story over in my head, I said, “That’s nice.” He walked away with a slightly puzzled frown on his face.
4. You keep a notebook of book titles you will never use.
I don’t do this so much anymore, but I used to keep a spiral notebook handy in case I thought of the perfect book title. I was still in the stage of focusing on the fun part of writing: coming up with the title of a book.
Never mind that I didn’t take any of the titles farther, to the story development and plotting stages. (Because, well, that would be the hard part.)
I was still thinking about writing instead of actually writing.
5. You turn the problems your friends share with you into plot lines.
As I listen, I am thinking, “Now this would be an interesting idea for a short story.” So I listen, respond and jot down notes at the same time.
I stopped feeling guilty about this when I realized that no one is off limits when it comes to the seed of a good story.
6. You inflict an emotional scar on your child by turning inanimate objects into characters.
When I was a single parent, one year, in an attempt to entertain my four-year-old at a Christmas dinner with just the two of us, I gave the candles in the floral centerpiece names and made the ‘family members’ talk, each with their own unique voice. They were a happy, chirpy candle family, telling their stories.
I did not anticipate the moment when I would have to silence them. When I blew them out, she wailed in that way only a small child can when they have been severely traumatized.
She grew up okay (no visible signs of trauma in this photo), but I always thought that any therapist worth their salt would be bound to have a lot of material to work with in future sessions.
7. You find it hard to form the words, “This is finished.”
Sometimes I come to know my characters intimately and don’t want to leave them when the story is over. I have even contemplated killing some of them off so they won’t haunt my dreams.
Or I think this sentence or that line of dialogue could be better. Until the day I realize that it is always possible to do one more rewrite, which leaves my work in limbo, in the Land of Perpetual Edits.
8. You jump up from your desk and scream the first time your most beloved author favorites one of your tweets or talks to you.
I started my stalking—er, following—early on. I shared her updates, responded to her tweets, all the time sensing that they had dropped into a bottomless vacuum somewhere in cyberspace.
Then one day, she responded to me on Facebook and started favoriting some of my tweets. It was like Christmas! Because to have a conversation with a literary idol is an amazing thing.
9. Your favorite thing to say is, “Yeah, but what would happen if…”
I can take any event and construct an alternate ending, kind of like those Choose Your Own Adventure children’s books in the 1980s. The whole concept is, “Yeah, you could do that, but what if you did this instead?”
My mind gets lost in the what-ifs, in the wondering about all the things that could change in a real life situation if this person had said or done this instead. Maybe a barista screws up and gets Starbucks orders switched, which causes two people to meet, and in the sorting out of their drinks, to exchange phone numbers and start dating. Who knows where something like that could lead?
10. You can find a line of dialogue from a movie to fit almost any real-life event.
I have seen these movies so many times that I can switch out the lines for practically anything that is happening in my life. Of course, only Bob, who is as crazy about movies as I am, will understand, mainly because he knows almost every line by heart, too.
11. The use of “your” for “you’re” in a Facebook update will ruin your day.
I must force myself to keep quiet when this happens. Because it’s the idea I should be focusing on, not the grammar and spelling, right?
But I cannot help myself. It is like a blinking red light. It is all I can see.
What about you?
Do you have any of these warning signs?
What have I missed?