You Know You Are A Writer When…

I am trapped inside of a box. It is a transparent cube. When I turn to my right, I see the shoe store at which I work surrounded by stacks and stacks of shoeboxes. When I turn to my left, my laptop doggedly tracks internship hours while sitting on I-5 as my car enters into busy Seattle. Behind me, I see my quaint hometown and loving family; I see Chapman University and my college life. In front of me, there is nothing but space, a vast and uncolored unknown that takes on the names of London and Roehampton University. Down at my feet and above my head, scribbles inlay the walls and wadded paper litters the floor. I am trapped in writer’s block and I am surrounded by constant duties on all sides of me.

On a much-needed vacation to Florida, I wracked my brain for an idea for my second blog post (writers never stop writing, even on vacation). Most of my days were spent basking in the sun and sand or splashing around with a snorkel. Gazing around at the other vacationers, I wondered, “How can you inspire me?” To no avail, I sought inspiration elsewhere. Perhaps a comparison between writing and fishing, I thought, especially because I had just learned how to fish several days prior. I was tantalized, but the idea was left unfinished.

Finally an idea hit me. It woke me up at 3 AM in ominous tandem with a roaring storm that sent flashing pink light into the bedroom window. Can one try on the title of writer as effortlessly as trying on a hat? Surely there are characteristics that all writers share? Reaching over my sleeping boyfriend, I grabbed my notebook and cell phone and turned on the flashlight. A child once more, I pulled the covers over my head and wrote, “You Know You Are A Writer When…”

  1. you wake up in the middle of the night with writer’s tingles. For most writers, this is chronic. Do you know that one person who talks a mile-a-minute and seems to never breathe between sentences? Well that’s how quickly ideas race through a writer’s brain when they catch writer’s tingles. Did you ever touch poison ivy or get bitten by a fire ant? Well that itchy and burning desire to scratch is exactly how a writer feels for a pen and something to write on. Lastly, do you remember that time your body was so heavy that you wanted to fall asleep that very instant but couldn’t because you were in an Uber? Well, that inability to sleep—even in untimely situations—is exactly how a writer feels until ideas are placed on paper.

You Know You Are A Writer When…

  1. you never ever stop thinking of ideas for a piece of work. I’m not sure there is a writer who looks at something and thinks “perfection,” and if there were, I would love to know how they did it! One time I was walking down a street and BOOM, a lady in a fur coat inspired a sudden scene in a story. So naturally, I went back and rewrote. There’s no mechanism to turn off ideas for a writer.

You Know You Are A Writer When…

  1. you write down names of people you meet to use later for characters. I’ve typed names into my phone notes and written them on napkins. I have several names in storage that I know I will appreciate when a story calls their name.

You Know You Are A Writer When…

4. you are inspired anywhere and everywhere. Writers have the unusual but incredible talent of being inspired by people, places, items, music, and etc. I personally love looking at pictures or nature and creating a story about what I see. While others see what is there, writers see what could be there. For this reason, you always have something to take notes. Pen, paper, napkin, hand/arm, phone, it doesn’t matter!

You Know You Are A Writer When…

5. your words flow effortlessly…sometimes. I like to refer to these moments as word swings because when the swing is at its peak, I feel like an invincible sentence-crafting goddess.

You Know You Are A Writer When…

  1. your words stumble…sometimes. The words can even be more tongue-tied than the nerdy boy who can’t articulate, “be my valentine” to the pretty girl who sits in front of him. That’s the moment the word swings collapse and I’m left feeling like desperate Icarus falling from the sky.

You Know You Are A Writer When…

  1. you are a mad scientist when it comes to brilliant ideas and wisely crafted sentences. Internally, this joy sounds like, “MWAHAHA, I’M THE MASTER.” Externally, this is a smile or a head nod of approval.

You Know You Are A Writer When…

  1. you like to write your name next to a work in progress. Personally, writing “By: Kelsey Parrotte” can really be a motivator. Plus, it makes me feel official and pretty damn awesome.

You Know You Are A Writer When…

  1. you gaze at bookshelves like the lost puppy looking for his home. Wouldn’t it be fantastic to see your book there? The thought makes me giddy! Plus, seeing a finished and published work is an incredibly rewarding feeling.

You Know You Are A Writer When…

  1. you wonder if your writing is any good. Yes, writers can be troubled people plagued by doubt, anxiety, depression, and jealously; in other words, they are human. But after combatting the “Am I even a good writer?” question, they are creators who inspire and change the lives of others. I’ve learned that questioning talent never leads to progress.

You Know You Are A Writer When…

  1. you admire other writers and study their techniques in hopes of perfecting and challenging your own writing style. With poetry especially, I found that mimicking or tweaking another style resulted in discovering my own voice.

You Know You Are A Writer When…

  1. you fear but appreciate criticism. Like any sport, even writers need coaches to help shape how they play. Thanks to all my un-paid editors, I’m grateful for your advice and knowledge!

You Know You Are A Writer When…

  1. your thoughts are disturbed during lunch because you suddenly wonder if your character likes cake, tea, or spicy foods. Sometimes you ponder how he or she would respond to the rude waitress who just spit into a customer’s beverage.

You Know You Are A Writer When…

  1. you feel as if you are empty of all your contents after your thoughts are on paper. With all your current ideas written down, your mind can better process and store new ideas.

You Know You Are A Writer When…

  1. you experience writer’s block and are busy with other tasks. Like me, you may feel trapped in a box with duties that keep you from writing. But in the midst of chaos, write. When writer’s tingles strike, write. After all, you know you are a writer when you write.

So what do you think comrades? When do you know you are a writer?

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