Does that Thomas Mann quote have you nodding with a wry smile?

Me too. We get it. It’s serious work, being a writer – because we care. We have to tap into heart and soul to create our best work.

So, writers are a special breed. Here are 5 tell-tale signs.

Introvert or Extrovert? Writers are often a bit of both. I’m rotten at small talk, but I love shop talk with other authors, and I thoroughly enjoy the lively connection when I mentor emerging writers. This is our “tribe.” Yet, on the whole, I’d say the writer’s personality is an introverted one.

We Are Listeners. I remember, as a kid, late at night, sitting on the bedroom stairs, listening to my parents’ parties in the living room and relishing the tidbits of chatter. To this day, at parties, I’d often rather sit on the stairs and listen than talk. We writers are like magpies, collecting the twigs and twine of people’s words to weave into stories.

We Are Watchers. People-watching is so integral to a writer’s temperament, it amounts almost to a need. When my daughter was a budding teen and we’d be in a restaurant, me eyeing folks at the next table, whether edgy businessmen or a flirting couple, she’d tell me in a mortified whisper, “Mom, stop staring!”

We Daydream. The loved ones we live with often don’t understand our need to simply sit and ponder. It’s our way of untangling stubborn plot threads and sifting characters’ motivations. Few non-writing people in your life understand that when you’re staring out a window for half an hour, you’re at work. (I blush to confess that when I used to drive my daughter to school, I sailed past the school’s street more than once, lost in plotting my characters’ lives.) Daydreaming is part of our job description.

We Cherish Solitude. Alone time, for a writer, is golden. The walk in the woods. The snatched twenty minutes staring out a window. Solitude is a crucial cog in the creative process. So is quiet. I regularly do Tai Chi and I love that hour for its dedicated silence. There are enough voices muttering in my head.

I guess that’s another moment: You know you’re a writer when you talk to yourself and characters answer!

Do you have your own “You know you’re a writer when . . .” moments? I’d love to hear them! Send me a note to share them.

All my best,
Barbara Kyle