Ramon Presson

Many people vow that THIS is the year that they will finally get their book written. They have been repeating the vow since the late ’80s, but this year is different. And what will make this year different? Well, because our aspiring author…

A)   Recently discovered a ground-breaking book about overcoming procrastination, self-doubt, writer’s block and unsupportive friends.

B)   Renewed her subscription to Writer’s Digest because the mere monthly arrival of the magazine will inspire and hold her accountable to write.

C)    Pledges to actually write instead of reading articles and books about writing…as soon as she finishes the procrastination book.

D)   Recently ditched the equipment that was clearly holding her back as a successful writer and replaced it with a new laptop, a solid maple writing desk, a floor lamp from Restoration Hardware, several Levenger pens and a coffee mug with an Emily Dickinson quote.

E)    All the above

Honestly, I believe it’s helpful to know if you’re a writer before you starting writing. You can save yourself a lot of time and agony by being 100% certain that you can do something before making any attempts. For example, I will never attempt skydiving because I have such a fear of heights that standing on a street curb makes me woozy if I look down. So how do you know that you ARE a writer before you bother putting pen to paper?

Here Are the Clues

Fortunately, Adair Lara, has given us some helpful clues in her little book “You Know You’re a Writer When…”  Here are some of my favorites from her list. Not all of these have to be true of you for you to self-identify as a writer. But I think you should probably engage in some self-doubt if you relate to fewer than half.

 *You resent your parents for a happy childhood

*You can almost get high on the smell of a freshly sharpened pencil.

*The doctor tells you that you have terminal cancer and you think, “I can use this.”

*Something bad happens to a friend and you’re glad she’s not a writer, so you can use it.

*You go to bed at night and it’s not your own problems that keep you awake at night, but those of the characters in your novel. How will Clarissa get her letters back before the wife of her murdered lover finds them and takes them to the police?

*Your memoir is taking so long to write that you keep having to change the ages of your children.

*Your mother is writing her own book to set the record straight.

*You relish reading a badly written book because every paragraph reminds you how much better a writer you are than the author. At the same time, it makes you furious that this hack at least got published.

*You scan your grocery list and mentally work out all the items into a narrative: “Disappointed to see the eggnog sold out, she turned with mounting despair to the next item on her list, Swiss chard, and thought back to that autumn evening years ago…”

*Despite anxiety, humiliation, and frustration, you can’t stop writing because you are doing exactly what you should be doing.

*You’ve wondered how much fortune cookie writers make.

*You can take literary criticism from anyone but a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, or a stranger.

*No one will watch movies with you because you critique the screenplay aloud.

*Your first response to receiving a Dear John (or Dear Jane) letter is not outrage at the content, but an urge to edit if for clarity and grammar.

*Writing is the only thing that makes you happy, and you hate writing.

You secretly hope it will rain on your vacation.

*You still get steamed when you think about your daughter getting a B-minus on a paper that you practically wrote for her.

And a Few of My Own

*You cannot bring yourself to send a text message without complete sentences and correction punctuation.

*You’ve ever wished that you could write your own eulogy and appoint someone to read it instead of having a weepy family member stand up there and just wing it.

*You believe that an expensive leather journal will somehow make you a better writer.

*The reason you don’t text and drive is because the risk of typos is just too great.

Ramon Presson, PhD, is a licensed marriage and family therapist in Franklin (www.ramonpressontherapy.com) and the author of several books. Reach him at ramonpresson@gmail.com.

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