Are you floating the idea of quitting your full-time “other” job with insurance and benefits to write that master work that has been preoccupying a hefty chunk of your waking (and even sleeping) thoughts?
Not so fast! Before you storm into your boss’s office and slam down a cake decorated with “I Quit” in cursive sprinkles on her desk, give a look at the precursors below to see if you’re experiencing any of these signs that writing is definitely in your future:
You Find Yourself Scribbling Nonsensically in the Night
If you find yourself regularly waking in the wee hours around 4:11 a.m. in a cold sweat, shaking and thrilled by a brilliant idea for a screenplay and are compelled to get out of bed to find a notebook and pen so you can scribble down a bunch of words that make only a shred of sense when you read them back to yourself in the morning, you should definitely give this writing thing a try.
You Have Near Death Experiences (etc) Brought on by a Brilliant Idea
If you are being haunted by the kernel of a book for going on two years which comes up at random and inopportune moments, like during an important meeting just as the boss asks you to give your input on the big project, at the very moment your partner looks lovingly into your eyes and asks what you’re thinking about or with such ferociousness, you began to cross a busy intersection against a light, for goodness sake, it’s time to give this writing thing a try, if for no other reason than to potentially save yourself from certain demise.
You Can’t Function Without Your Special Notebook
If you feel naked, if you, heaven forbid, were to accidentally leave the house without your little bound notebook that cost a small fortune at the boutique gift shop that was, in fact, a gift for yourself to start writing notes down so you can begin to actually formulate the outline of a series of short essays you’ve been carting around in your heart for the better part of a decade, maybe it’s time to buy a new ink cartridge for that fancy pen you got for Christmas six years ago and give this writing thing a serious try.
You Secretly Spy on the Local Writing Group
If you find yourself sneaking into the local coffee shop on Tuesday evenings and angrily stuffing bites of a blueberry-cran muffin into your face just so you can glare over with envy at the writer’s group as they sit smugly in a circle, taking turns pushing their dark-rimmed glasses up higher onto their noses to read their prized hand-scribbled (or neatly typed) pages of their works to each other in hushed, self-satisfied tones, guess what, my friend? There’s a good chance that you need to give this writing thing a stab.
You Can’t Turn Down a Free Writer’s E-Newsletter
If you have a subscription to half a dozen script writing advice e-blasts that fill your inbox with notes, tips, suggestions and prompts that you bet you’d knock out of the park if you could only start that sci-fi script based on an almost, mostly sort of, somewhat true story starring a pseudo-witch neighbor you knew as a child who communicated with aliens and had the state’s largest collection of meteorites, chances are that it’s time for you to block off a few hours a day to give this writing thing a whirl.
Every Conversation Is a Potential Paycheck
If you can’t have a conversation with a friend or listen to any human talk anywhere without taking out a notebook and jotting down thorough, not-so-clandestine notes mid-discussion or pulling out your device and recording the absolute magic they are so frivolously, obliviously spilling without even a care in the world for the fact that they’re literally giving away pure unadulterated gold to the nearest person bold enough to make a note of it all, for goodness sake, you’re a writer to your very core. Give it a try, won’t you?
You’re Maniacally Driven to Write
If you’re compelled for some dag blasted reason to pick up a pen and privately commit words to paper for minutes or hey, maybe even hours per day in a quiet (or bustling) room because they are backlogged so densely in your brain that you need to unload them somewhere and this, THIS is the method that, for whatever reason seems the least complicated, most viable and ever so certainly THE way to do it of all the other options you may have access to, including talk therapy, group therapy or entrusting a confidante or 9, there’s a bona fide chance that you should waste no more time and give this writing thing a try.
You Can’t Stop Narrating Your Days and Nights
If you can absolutely not enter any party, bus, train, meeting, appointment or art opening without your mind narrating what is happening as if you are a lead character in a summer beach read meets romance novel about a woman who accidentally found the love of her life while she was, in fact, trying to do nothing of the sort, I’m sorry to inform you, but there’s a solid chance that you should reserve a bungalow by the sea and give this writing thing a 100% wholehearted try.
Writing Could Literally Save Your Life
If you’re a new mom and you can’t work due to your arms quite literally being chock full of a screaming, screeching infant and you get laid off while on maternity leave and also find yourself in the midst of a throbbing case of postpartum depression and have so many thoughts and feelings pouring out of you, you think you might explode if you don’t put them somewhere, like, say, a blog for example, you might consider getting yourself a lap desk, learning to type one-handed or using the text-to-speech function on your phone and giving this writing thing a try.
You’re a Natural
If you’re a person who is constantly thinking in bits, clever snippets and ideas, and you can’t have a conversation or watch a commercial without spitting out a hilarious, opinionated, fully-formed set-up and punchline that tells the world exactly who you are in a way so unique and entertaining that even Kurt Vonnegut or Mark Twain or Joan Rivers herself would do a spit take and ROLF (and you’re also always writing these ideas down so that you can revisit them later or maybe even use them again), there’s a real good chance that you should give this writing thing a try.
You’re Certain You’ve Got a Hit on Your Hands
If you find yourself digging through crime blotters and posing as an amateur detective like some kind of grown-up Encyclopedia Brown, armchair “solving” mysterious crimes as you watch the story unfold on TV or read along with it (it was obviously the husband!) and have put together a tale in your mind so grim, gory and gruesome that it’d give Agatha Christie herself nightmares (and you’re pretty sure sell a few million copies, easy), there’s a pretty darn good chance that you might think about giving this writing thing a try.
Writing Is the Only Job That Will Do
If you’ve had pretty much every other kind of job there is — bank teller, dog walker, nude model, leaf raker, masseuse, hotel clerk, cater waiter, cat jogger, professional triangle player in a band, usher, babysitter, swim instructor and car salesperson and none of the jobs stuck because you have a hard time sitting at a desk/managing animals/getting naked in front of or massaging strangers/dealing with people/keeping time/finding a seat in the dark/minding kids/lying, you might consider taking the wealth of material you’ve amassed from a lifetime of crazy jobs and — give this writing thing a try.
— Jessica Delfino
Jessica Delfino is a comedian, writer, musician and mom who lives in New York City. Recent bylines include McSweeney’s, The Atlantic, The New York Times, High Times, Parents, SELF and more. She writes a weekly column on writing humor called “Humor Room” on Medium’s The Writing Cooperative and has started Pay What You Wish PR inspired by her years of promoting her own writing and performing. She enjoys life, most of the time. Find her on Twitter and Instagram for off-color jokes and demented asides @jessicadelfino.