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12 Signs You Aren’t Really a Writer

26

May 12, 2015 by Nathaniel Tower

Like every other writer in the world except maybe Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, and that woman who wrote those rapey bondage books, I occasionally question whether or not I’m a real writer.

So I devised this little test. Here are 12 signs you aren’t really a writer. If 4 or more of these apply to you, then you definitely aren’t a writer.

  1. You always force yourself to think about ideas to write about

It’s fine to think about writing, but take a fucking break once in a while. If you’re always forcing it, then it isn’t real. Real writers don’t spend every waking moment straining to find things to write about.

  1. Criticism hurts your feelings

Sure, a bad review of what you thought was your career-defining work will get you down, but if you can’t take any criticism, then you aren’t really a writer. This is especially true of constructive criticism. If you’re the type who thinks every little critique is an attack on your skills as a writer, then a writer you are not.

  1. Rejection gets you down every time.

Get over yourself. Rejection is part of being a writer. Sure, some rejections sting more than others, but you eventually just have to accept it. When real writers are rejected, they do one of two things: submit somewhere else or revise their shitty writing. Oh, and maybe drink themselves into oblivion.

  1. You think you’ll lose it if you don’t use it

It’s fine to write every day. It’s cool if you want to set aside time to write or have daily word count goals. But if going a day without writing makes you feel like you’re going to lose something as a writer, then you aren’t a writer. It’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget how to write because you go a day or two without doing it.

  1. You don’t recognize your own bad writing

Do you think everything you write is good? You’re definitely not a writer. Even great writers have a fair amount of shit in their repertoire. The best writers in the world publish less than 25% of what they write.

  1. You think everything you write is bad

On the flipside, if you never think your writing is good, then you aren’t a writer. Occasional self-doubt is cool and all, but if you think everything you write sucks, well, then it probably does. You can keep writing your sucky shit, but don’t call yourself a writer.

  1. You’ve never made any money off your writing

You don’t have to make a living off writing in order to be a writer, but if you’ve never made any money, then you aren’t a writer (yet). Especially in today’s world where there are so many opportunities to make a few bucks here and there as a writer (hell, self-publish on Amazon and sell one copy to your mom). Shooting free throws in the driveway a few days a week doesn’t make you a basketball player, does it? Oh, one more thing. Just because you have made some money off your writing doesn’t mean you are a writer. Getting called in to sub for your cousin with a broken arm in a pick-up basketball game on the playground doesn’t make you a basketball player either.

  1. People often tell you that you can’t make it as a writer

I often hear people tell these horror stories about all the people who’ve told them they’ll never cut it as a writer. Not to be an ass, but no one has ever told me that. If you’re hearing this all the time, then you probably aren’t a very good writer. Hey, if it doesn’t quack like a duck…

  1. You get really mad about other people’s book deals

Yeah, it probably ticks you off a little that 50 Shades of Grey sold millions of copies even though it’s widely considered to be utter shit. But some shit sells. If you get really mad about everyone else’s book deal, then you aren’t a real writer. Instead, you should spend more time figuring out what actually sells.

  1. You create conspiracy theories about publishing

So you haven’t been published yet. No big deal. Sometimes it takes a while. Some writers wait decades before they get published. It’s fine to try to think about why you haven’t been published (not commercial enough, not sending out the right stuff, not sending out to the right venues, etc.). But if you’re coming up with wild theories about why you haven’t been published, then you aren’t a writer.

  1. You spend more time wondering if you’re a writer than actually writing

Writers write. If you’re always sitting around thinking, “Oh, woe is me, am I writer?” then you aren’’t a writer. Just shut the fuck up and write already.

  1. You think you’ve never had an experience worth writing about

No matter what type of writer you are, you need some real life experiences. Poets, fiction writers, journalists. Everyone has to be able to draw from something. But guess what? Even sitting in your room without doing anything for five years is an experience you can write about. If you can’t find any inspiration from your own life, then you aren’t a writer.

Bonus. This list pisses you off

Okay, so you might not agree with this list, but if it really makes you mad, then you must not be a writer. No real writer would get upset about something so trivial.


So, did you pass the test? Are you a writer or not? Share your results, or just tell all your real writer friends to fuck off.

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26 thoughts on “12 Signs You Aren’t Really a Writer

  1. csdewildt says:

    I really like your take on this very trending topic. Visit my site for a free offer that will boosting traffic/sales in…

    JK. It’s me. Did you think I was spam? Dope list, man. Keep it up, i.e. more please.

  2. Neil A. Waring says:

    That was fun – I think if anyone cannot get past #1 they should stop. I will never have time to write everything I want to write or have notes on.

  3. M. Howalt says:

    How dare you!!!
    Nah, just kidding. 🙂
    I disagreed with number 7 until I realised you said writer and not artist. I mean, I firmly believe that great art can be made and put ino a drawer and never see the light of day and still be amazing art when discovered 100 years later, but when you think of being a writer as a job or career as well as a calling/hobby/passion, it makes sense.
    As for number 8, I’ve heard that, but curiously only from people who’ve never read anything I wrote, so it was more a general warning about the creative arts.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting (and having a good sense of humor). Yes, in regards to number 8, I’m only talking about people who’ve read your work and then told you that you’ll never make it. Those general comments about how nobody can make a living as a writer/artist are exempt from this.

  4. Gargi Mehra says:

    Oh dear! I was quite sure I’d pass this test, but Nos. 4 and 6 had me wondering for a moment! Thanks for a hilarious post as usual!

  5. Thanks for putting this out there. It seems like most aspiring writers talk about how they can’t not write, and they all have kept journals from the moment they learned to juggle the alphabet into words. This occasionally makes me doubt myself, because my drive comes from wanting to write, not needing to. Your laid back take on this subject rings true.

  6. Dustin Heron says:

    Wow, this is the most precious, pompous thing you’ve posted yet. Writers write. Full stop. And they are human, not some kind of supernatural being incapable of feeling jealousy, anger, etc. Writers write. And its not some kind of magical club that we need to work so hard to keep people out.

    • Dustin Heron says:

      And i get that you’re being funny partly, or trying to be, but considering your oeuvre its hard to tell. condescension seems to reign.

    • Thanks for taking the time to read and commemt. I don’t fully agree with your simplistic formula for what makes a writer. A writer does much more than simply write. This post is not an attempt to keep anyone out of some special club. It’s a whimsical attempt to point out many of the challenges that aspiring writers face. We all run into some of these feelings from time to time.

      • Dustin Heron says:

        Meh, it actually is that simple. What you’re talking about here are definitions based on along some type of commerce, not art. Post like this promote a philosophy that there are “Real Writers” separate from the “Pretenders,” and that line is usually marked down by someone more interested in gatekeeping than community. If someone is wondering if they are a “real writer” the only worthwhile question is, “do you write?” So #11 is pretty much your only valid point. If you don’t write, then you’re not a writer. If you write, then you are one. Are you a good writer? Well, that’s subjective, isn’t it?

      • Simply doing something does not make it art. You are obviously not a writer if you don’t write, but simply writing doesn’t make you a writer. Maybe it does on a literal level, but we’re looking at something deeper here.

        It seems like you are trying to take this post far too seriously. If someone is honestly wondering if they are a “real writer” and trying to use this list to determine it, then we all clearly know what the answer is.

        That being said, it’s been fun interacting with you, and I think you’ve provided some interesting counterpoints. Thanks for keeping the discussion alive.

  7. Dustin Heron says:

    So what is a “writer” then by your definition?

    i’m taking this post in the context of other things you’ve written. So I see the snark.

  8. It’s a fun post :), I made it past most of them. Though my writing isn’t that good, I’ll improve more, people did say I have potential, guess I passed?

  9. adadsview says:

    Nice post.

    I made a similar point to the basketball analogy a couple of weeks back. “I play football in the park with the kids, does that make me a footballer?”

    http://adadsviewblog.com/2015/09/27/i-am-not-a-writer/

  10. Liuba Dragotta says:

    Hi! Five minutes ago I came to the conclusion to give up writing, hence not thinking I was a writer but just giving up the action. So I tapped in ‘what if you’re a crap writer’ on Google search and came upon your link.
    Each point made me laugh and didn’t apply to me, apart from the one where I’ve made no money! Luckily I’ve never described myself as a writer but more so someone who writes. I have been writing for myself for over 20 yrs as a hobby and as therapy. It really has helped me to write over the years and probably will continue to do so. There are so many crappy writers who write meaningles drivel but I think writing should be embraced and expressed in all forms, crappy or otherwise. I say never give writing whatever!

    • Thank you for reading and posting. I’m honored that my post came up for a Google search about crap writers!

      I’m glad you don’t plan to give up. Keep writing as long as it’s something you enjoy. Good luck!

  11. Yousuck says:

    You pretentious piece of shit

  12. A visitor says:

    Ok, I get that this article is old and you probably won’t even see this. And I get that it’s satire. But the tone doesn’t convey particularly well, especially to kids. I just had a 14 year old come up to me really upset after finding this article through a google search, saying that he was going to quit writing because obviously he was just pretending. It absolutely crushed him.

    Please think about this sort of thing next time. Maybe tag the post as satire in some way?

  13. Natasha says:

    I’m glad you wrote this. Many of these fit me. I’m a good writer but I don’t believe I enjoy it enough to make an effort for a career. I think I see it as more of an achievement. I know I’m an artist because I don’t have to question it plus I do art every day and know for a fact I enjoy it and could somehow make a career of it. I’ve been questioning whether I’m a writer for years and I question it more than actually doing it. Thanks! 🙂

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