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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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…
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.