1. You’re a tortured soul
You can’t be a writer unless you’re battling demons on a daily basis. Mental health problems and addiction go hand in hand, and to be a successful writer, a true writer, it’s vital. It helps fill your pages with emotional insight, the rawness of pain and suffering, a different level of empathy for your characters. No one wants to read something written by a writer who is happy with their life. Imagine Hemingway as a sober, loyal, cheerful fellow. Where would the agony be in his writing? The heart-wrenching realizations? The inevitable acceptance that the world is as cold and vulnerable as a writer’s soul?
2. You drink too much
There is no such thing as a writer who is a moderate drinker. I can’t have one single beer, or one glass of wine. A glass turns into a bottle, without fail. A drunken stupor is always preferred to the agony of being sober. And you can relate to the true, binge-drinking writers of the past. You relate to the hollowness they felt, the hollowness that can’t be filled no matter how many people you kiss or how much praise you receive or how many bottles you drink. It’s always there, burning for something that doesn’t quite exist. There is a sensitivity to writers, to all artists really, because they struggle with the questions of life that most people don’t even think about. Drinking both silences and amplifies these thoughts, these emotions, these voices in our heads.
3. You’re never satisfied with your writing, or your life
Nothing is ever good enough. People can praise you, give you outstanding feedback and groundbreaking reviews, but it amounts to nothing. Your own opinion will never add up. You will never read a piece of your own, published or not, and think, “What a great story. What a superb piece of writing.” There’s always something that can be changed, always a word that should’ve been cut or a minor detail that should’ve been included. Satisfaction is a myth. You’ll die trying to be the writer you want to be. That writer will always be just out of your reach.
4. You’re a purist
Writers only read real literature. Yes, I’m a book snob. Yes, I’m extremely cynical. And yes, most internet writing in my eyes doesn’t appear to be real writing. I don’t like to see what the new bestsellers are. I don’t like to have people give me book recommendations unless they’re purists or writers themselves. I scoff at authors who are making millions of dollars just because they have an imagination and a thesaurus. It breaks my heart to hear people say something like 50 Shades of Grey is their favorite book, but refuse to recognize a Fitzgerald novel as something worthy of their time. Because it’s boring, or they don’t get it, or the words are too big, or the plot doesn’t move fast enough. Oh, and don’t even say the word Kindle to me.
5. You love to be alone
While mental health problems and addiction go hand in hand, so do isolation and insanity, and a writer must be insane in order to explore the depths of the human soul. Normal people just don’t realize how deep it goes. By being alone, you become more self-aware, and self-awareness is imperative for a writer. We can make sense of our fucked up minds.
6. You’re used to being broke
Unless you start knocking out books about dystopian futures that involve love triangles, then you’re most likely going to be a broke writer. Luckily, I’m already broke a majority of the time. Even with a steady salary, after I pay for everything that I need in life, I’m left with a few bucks to make it through the week.
7. You’re extremely opinionated
And you rarely keep those opinions to yourself. I will argue with complete strangers if they disagree with a topic I’m passionate about. I get very worked up, and while I can be really sensitive, I can be very overbearing as well. Writers are some of the most passionate people in the world, so if I feel strongly about something, trust me, you’ll know.
8. You can’t do math
One side of your brain is probably much stronger than the other. So while you catch on to grammar and language quite easily, you can’t do basic math. I still count on my fingers when adding. I don’t understand how much money I’m saving during sales, I don’t get tipping, and there is no way I can do any multiplying or dividing. The only equation that makes sense to me = English > Math.