So You Think You’re a Writer?


I have a confession. Sometimes, when I meet people for the first time, and I am asked what I do for a living, I hesitate. I know what I do, but there are moments when I don’t feel like using the word “write” and its derivatives. I still cannot pinpoint the reason, but the next time it happens, I shall certainly think about it again. Has that happened to any of you?

Maybe you find it easy to put on the label “writer”, but whether or not you do, what I’d like to share in today’s Grammar Guide is something about some “signs” that writers exhibit. We’ve been over many of these things in the past, but earlier today, I found myself going through a blog post titled “You Might Be a Writer If…” and did I find myself chuckling!

The writer basically listed down items to complete the statement “You might be a writer if you know:”

  • how to use there, their and they’re correctly
  • the difference between its and it’s
  • when to use peek, peak and pique
  • the difference between affect and effect
  • how to use an apostrophe correctly
  • when to use a hyphen to form a two-word adjective
  • the difference between loose and lose
  • when to use roll instead of role
  • that it is never correct to use “should of” in place of “should have”

Let’s have a little fun and add our own items to the list? Here’s my shortened version, with elements that are not necessarily grammar-related.

You might be a writer if you:

  • can rattle off a hundred different ways to say the same thing
  • can’t concentrate during a lecture/presentation/sermon because you keep getting distracted by the speaker’s mistakes
  • employ non-standard usage, simply because you know the rules, and you feel that you can get away with it
  • sigh if you see words such as “stuffs” (used as noun)

What’s on your list? Share them with us!

Image via Chapendra


  1. says

    You are a writer if you prefer using ‘you are’ instead of ‘you’re’; know how to use to and too; and use the word ‘and’ after a semi-colon

  2. Naomi L says

    Yes! Thank you! It’s so good to hear that someone else goes through the same steps as I do when asked what I do. I almost always pull out my part time job rather then say ‘I’m a writer’, it’s nice to know I’m not the only one who hesitates there. Thank you :-)

    BTW, I love all your posts.

  3. Philip says

    I thought i was the only one! i finally got over it though . Now am not ashamed to say i am a writer. Here is number one on my list:
    You are a writer if you can turn around a 500 word research article in 30-45 minutes.

  4. says

    You might be a writer if you chuckle when people pay you handsome sums for what you consider to be simply stringing words together in the correct order.

  5. says

    Here’s another take on what it means to be a writer. It’s a poem by Charles Bukowski:
    Amongst other things, he says:

    unless it comes unasked out of your
    heart and your mind and your mouth
    and your gut,
    don’t do it.

    By the time I was finished, I decided that although I write every day for a living, I’m not a writer.
    Rob´s last blog post ..Reflections on the Harlan Ellison Rant about Writing for Free

  6. says

    Good list :-) I’m always mentally correcting lectures

    Working as an editor I’ve seen some horrifying mistakes, I started keeping a note of them, here are a few of the best –

    “wallah” instead of “voila”
    “litany test” instead of “litmus test”
    “for all intensive purposes” instead of “for all intents and purposes”
    “have a steak in it” instead of “have a stake in it”
    “ineligible screen” instead of “illegible screen”

    One letter typo can really wreak havoc in the right place, spot the i that should have been an o
    “comes with a universal dick adapter”

    • BB says

      The “universal dick adapter” really got me laughing. I can’t help but think their must be some kind of fortune to be made with one. I’m not really sure what exactly the product would be, but I am sure there is an adult market waiting for one.

  7. says

    Reading Facebook posts sometimes makes me cringe. Seeing errors on signs and hearing them as people speak makes me cringe. Hearing or reading “hot water heater” or “he just graduated college” is akin to a brick hitting my head.

    I wasn’t an English major or anything like that, but it was always my best subject in school and my mom was an English major. I grew up knowing how to use the language well, but as a writer I consider myself kind of a “hack” (though a well-informed one).

    The “writer” tag seems to have surprised a lot of people I know because I’m a counselor by trade and never formally studied it beyond the basic college requirements. I can get odd looks when I say that, so it sometimes depends on who I’m talking to.

    Even though I am told my writing is good by clients at times, I’ll still sometimes find myself surprised that people are actually paying me money to do it.
    Erika K´s last blog post ..Gluten Free Goulash

  8. Irene says

    Check out the contracting “it’s” in this phrase from a sentence in your article: ‘…when I don’t feel like using the word “write” and it’s derivatives.’

  9. says

    Yes, I do these. Now I can say, “I am a writer because I understand the rules!” Just kidding. Actually, I know what you mean about hesitating. It isn’t because I am embarrassed or lacking confidence. It’s because I do so many different things, how can I sum it up? I usually just say “I am a writer. I focus mainly on writing website content for my clients. I have my own websites, too.” I gained a client by fessing up!
    Katherine´s last blog post ..Writing Career First Step – Build Your Writing Portfolio

  10. says

    I can do you one better.

    Unless I know its improvised right from the start, I tend to rewrite the thing as I go along. A lot of anime does this. While not literally translated anymore, a lot of it is still too long. By doing that, I made 22 minute episodes into 18 or 19 minute ones.

  11. Kristy says

    A lot of these ideas I’m seeing are indicative of editors, not writers. Most of the writers I know have terrible spelling and grammar, and they rely heavily on spell check and an editor. I’d say the most important part of being a writer is stringing together words in a cohesive sentence in order to make a point or tell a story. Sure, it would be nice if all writers had a working knowledge of grammar, but it’s not always necessary with editors looking for jobs, as well. Additionally, I’d add you might be a writer if you have a notebook with snippets of conversations you overheard, ideas that sprang to mind during a dream, or parts of an interview with a character filling the pages. If you’re (I see nothing wrong with using contractions, by the way) anything like me, these notebooks are strategically placed in several locations to ensure that you have pen and paper immediately when the source of your inspiration hits. I have one on my nightstand, one in my purse, one in my car, and one at my desk.

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