What makes someone a writer? The simple answer to that question is to be a writer, you have to write. There are no magic elixirs or code words. The are times, either in the act of writing or in the process of thinking about writing, that I know I’m a writer.
I am a writer when I am madly scribbling in my private notebook, writing poems and stories no one will ever see but myself. I use a mechanical pencil because the point is always sharp. When my pencil is dull, my mind feels dull. I like to write quickly, in long bursts, firmly crossing my t’s and forming the tails of my y’s with careful flourishes.
I am also a writer when I am staring at a blank computer screen, typing a few words at a time before backspacing and erasing them all. I am a writer when my mind feels sluggish and charred from too many words but I write anyway.
I am a writer when I am lying in bed unable to sleep because of the words bumping around inside my brain, forming themselves into unusual juxtapositions and startling images. It’s times like these that I often give up on my half-formed slumber and turn on my bedside lamp so I can write down my inspiration before it fades away into dreams.
I am a writer when I observe the world, noticing the veins of a leaf or the glimmer of a snowflake and adding these details to my store of writing material. Sometimes I observe myself this way, noting each heartbeat and breath as I climb a steep hill or hear a piece of bad news. When my boyfriend puts his arm around me for the first time, I try to remember the sensation for future reference, because I might need to gift it to one of my characters someday.
I am a writer when I am researching a topic that fascinates me, when the ideas click and suddenly I am able to articulate my thoughts in a new way. I have sheets of notebook paper in front of me covered in illegible ink scratches, but now I know that I can say what needs to be said.
How about you? When do you know you’re a writer?