Ten Signs You’re a REAL Writer

After my previous blog post, “Six Maxims of Writing for a New Writer,” I started hearing from people who began tentatively wondering whether they were really-and-for-true Writers.

That’s Writer with a capital W.

Roomful of writers at Hubbard and Cravens in Indianapolis

You can always tell a roomful of writers. You just can't tell 'em much.

They had hesitated to call themselves a Writer, because they didn’t think they had done it long enough, didn’t think they had earned the title, or were afraid to say it out loud because other real Writers would laugh at them, the way the bully laughs at the weak kid who tries to surf/do karate/do rap battles.

Believe me, most Writers aren’t like that. We’re the ones on the other side of the line, beckoning you to the dark side the party. Mostly because we’re lonely and unhealthily humble about being writers that we need the newbies’ optimism to feed off of feel better about ourselves remind ourselves of why we got into this business — no, “feed off of” is right.

How do you know whether you’re an official Writer or not? There’s no ceremony where a Mont Blanc fountain pen has been carried lovingly on a red velvet pillow to Annie Lamott so she can tap you on the shoulders three times with it.

For writer/Butler U creative writing teacher, Bryan Furuness, it was after he published his first story. “As soon as I said it, I was shocked and embarrassed,” Bryan said.

So, in light of that, and because we can never sync our schedules for an official Writer-knighting ceremony, here are the signs that you are an official, really-and-for-true Writer of the Realm.

If you do at least seven of these things, then you have this profession’s official permission to tell people, “I’m a Writer” without stammering, stuttering, putting a question mark at the end of that statement, or ducking your head and scuffing the toe of your shoe in the dirt.

  1. You have been “vetted,” meaning you have submitted something to perfect strangers and been accepted or rejected. (Cathy Day, author, creative writing teacher at Ball State University)
  2. Have a designated writing space in your home. (Cathy Day)
  3. Approach your tools of the trade with a seriousness and dedication. (Allison Carter, writer and marketing professional)
  4. Carry a notebook or notecards with you everywhere because you’re constantly being struck with new ideas. (Erik Deckers)
  5. Feel compelled to write even when no one is asking you to (as if it’s something you must do). (Cathy Day)
  6. Spend most of your professional work day writing. (Kate Shoup, professional writer and editor)
  7. Regularly study the nuts and bolts of writing through books and workshops. (Allison Carter)
  8. Got published for the first time in a real print publication. (Leslie Bailey, freelance writer)
  9. You have a regular practice and schedule of writing. (Bryan Furuness) . . .even when you don’t have to for school or deadlines (Cathy Day)
  10. You wrote today. (Bryan Furuness)

So that’s it. If you’ve done 7 of those things (especially #10), you now have permission to call yourself a writer. Pick up your pen from the valet outside.

And tell him you can’t wait to read his novel.

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    About Erik Deckers

    Erik Deckers is the President of Pro Blog Service, a content marketing and social media marketing agency He co-authored four social media books, including No Bullshit Social Media with Jason Falls (2011, Que Biz-Tech), and Branding Yourself with Kyle Lacy (3rd ed., 2017, Que Biz-Tech), and The Owned Media Doctrine (2013, Archway Publishing). Erik has written a weekly newspaper humor column for 10 papers around Indiana since 1995. He was also the Spring 2016 writer-in-residence at the Jack Kerouac House in Orlando, FL.


    1. Cindy Bellinger says

      A new friend came to dinner yesterday. She’s reinventing herself after losing her job in the crash, after losing her house in the crash. A children’s story began in her. She wanted to talk about it. I was delighted. I’ve been a writer for 35+ years; what fun to share what I know. Every writer starts somewhere.

    2. Tia Nielsen says

      Ah, so this explains my incessant attachment to my keyboard after a new story calls itself to life. Thanks for sharing this list of clues, Erik.

    3. I meet all 10 of those, but I put two space at the end of every sentence. Do I still qualify? Also, can I put this post in the Author/Mentor Group I run, I have 140 people, published and unpublished who could really benefit from this post.