1. You Were Born With a Pen in Your HandWell, not literally of course... but close! If you remember eagerly uncapping your pen at school to write about 'What I Did in the Holidays' or 'My Big Adventure', then you probably had no chance from the start - a writer you were destined to be! (No doubt your idea of a fun school vacation was to sit in a room and write stories all day, too...)
2. You Were Always Lost in a Fictional World
Did people have to come right up to you and shake you to get your attention when you were reading?
Did you ever pull a book out of your bag and wander to school with your eyes fixed on the pages (dodging death from skateboarders and cyclists because you simply didn't see or hear them?)
Did you often stay up so late reading that you went to school with a headache or bleary eyes?
If you say 'yes' to all three, no writer will be a bit surprised. It's more than likely that even today you always have a book or three by the bed, and panic at the thought of running out of reading matter...
3. You Find That All the World's a Stage
Sometimes it seems like the world is filled with characters just for you to draw on for your novels. You can't sit in a coffee lounge without wondering about those around you, and a snippet of overheard conversation is enough to have you busily giving them all stories and backgrounds that would probably amaze them if they only knew. And as for relatives - well, they know by now that their lives provide you with a fertile source for your novels.
4. You Keep Notebooks Everywhere to Grab Those Fleeting Ideas
Never let it be said that you let a good idea go to waste. You scribble down interesting news stories, scraps of conversation, plots prompted by the latest celebrity scandal - and yes, you even have pages of illegible scrawl from fragments of dreams that you record in the dark at 3 am. And where DID you put that TV magazine with that amazing idea scribbled in the margin...?
5. You're a Writing Resource Junkie
You can't help it. Your shelves are groaning with Writing "How To" books; you've signed up for dozens of workshops and short courses, and you can't resist nifty software that helps you to brainstorm ideas and to organise your plots. You have a house full of books, hardware, software and manuals - even video tuition - but you can't get enough. Every birthday is a great reason to spend up on more to feed your habit: a new laptop computer or a ticket to a writer's retreat. All perfectly understandable...
6. You've Given Up Writing at Least a Dozen Times
... but you keep coming back for more: writing is like a drug to you. You just can't NOT write! It's frustrating, heartbreaking, exhausting, and you think you must be crazy to keep going back to the computer - but you do anyway. It's in your blood and there's absolutely no cure. None.
7. You Are Secretly Convinced That You Can Write As Well as...?
J.K. Rowling, Patricia Cornwell, Maeve Binchy, Jennifer Crusie, Janet Evanovich, Jack Higgins, Kathryn Fox, Jeffrey Archer... YOU fill in the blanks! You 'know' that they have just been lucky; they came along at the perfect moment. If you can only catch a break, it will be your name in the best-seller lists, right next to theirs.
And that might well be true. Not that they've 'just been lucky' (how often have you heard the saying: "The harder I work, the luckier I get"?) but it's quite possible that you can write just as well. All editors know that there are many, many talented writers out there who simply gave up too soon.
So right here and now, resolve that you won't be one of them. If you recognise most of these '7 signs' (and yeah, okay, they ARE a bit tongue-in-cheek!) then... there's nothing for it but to take a deep breath and get to work.
No use fighting it. You're destined to be a writer. The computer's waiting for you... so off you go.
© Marg McAlister McAlister and Writing For Success