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You know you’re a writer when ...

Updated: Oct 4, 2022

Members of Sydney School of Arts & Humanities writers' groups were this week given the task of writing a response to the above prompt, using no more than 20 words. The prompt is taken from a book title, and when one of my daughters gave me a copy she told me the book was written with me in mind: 'Remember you are happiest when you are writing'.

Matt Jackson made the longest contribution to the writing response, so enthusiastic that he finally and absolutely cast off the word length rules set for the exercise.

You know you’re a writer when you understand exactly what needs doing until 2.3 seconds after you sit down to start.

... when you have an allergic reaction to grammatical errors.

... when you cry yourself to sleep because your imaginary friends won’t play.

You know you’re a writer when you have a 3-page description of a kiwi fruit taking its own skin off.

... when you’re committed to a charismatic leader, excommunicate everyone who disagrees with you, and participate in descriptions of rampant group sex. Oh wait, that’s a cult. (Or is it?)

You know you’re a writer when you’re supposed to be held to a word limit for what’s no doubt a good reason, but you know better than to just accept rules like that when you could be doing something different and cool, and it’s only when you’re ten thousand words deep and tipping over into doubling it that you realise stopping at twenty probably would have been better, after all.

Matt Jackson

You know you’re a writer when your novel inspires a jihad.

Jim Piotrowski

You know you're a writer when words and images and stories are constantly buzzing

around in your head like a swarm of bees.


You know you’re a writer when you cannot concentrate on the moment because all you think about is how to write about it.

Clara Andrade

You know you’re a writer when you use your imagination and put pen to paper to create something that never existed before you wrote it.

Roslyn Lawson

You know you’re a writer when you keep writing lists of words and you can't stop yourself.

Meg Mooney

You know you’re a writer when you automatically reach for your notebook to scribble down an anecdote during a friend's emotional tirade about the state of her marriage.

Elizabeth Mulcare

You know you’re a writer when you find yourself stepping out of the everyday world so you can write about it.

... when you finish writing, and at that moment you taste the freedom to begin again.

Robert Carrick

The inspiration for this writing prompt for members of the SSOA writers' groups came from the book title, 'You Know You're a Writer When ...' by Adair Lara (Chronicle Books, SF, 2007). She writes in her Introduction: 'Writing is not a job, something you do. It's something you are, something you can't not be. Being a writer is not a matter of being published, or wearing sweaters with leather patches on the elbows, or smoking a pipe. ... Here is what the ink-stained, carpal-tunneled, slightly dazed, wordstruck people I know had to say:

You know you’re a writer when:

  • you know more than ten synonyms for 'blue'

  • there are large containers of writing implements in all your rooms, like bouquets of flowers

  • your office is any cafe with an outlet.'

Copyright: Text by the writers cited above. Photos by Wix.


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