5 Sure Signs You’re a Writer – do this quick quiz!

Writer at work!

Got a feeling you might be a writer? Do this quick quiz then add up your points and see how you go!

5 Sure Signs You’re a Writer

  1. You READ – a lot. Is your bedside table, floor, desk covered in books half-read and to be read? Writers read voraciously and widely. Reading is your safe place and your sanctuary. Not only that, when writers read we’re always looking at how the book is written, especially books we love. We’re always thinking, “How did the author DO that?” Give yourself one point for every book in your pile.
  2. You WRITE. Do you have a diary or journal you’ve been keeping for years? That’s a sure sign of a writer and the best way I know to develop your unique writing voice. Not keeping a diary? Do you write long letters, or emails or blog posts? Do you write to make sense of things? Write to bear witness? Does the act of writing give you pleasure? Does writing soothe you? Do you find comfort in shaping words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs? Give yourself 5 points if you write regularly. An extra 5 if you’ve kept a diary for over a year.
  3. You REMEMBER IN STORIES. When you are remembering events from the past, do you find yourself writing the memory in your head? Are you forming a story with words rather than images, or images and words together. Are you trying to find a way to tell this story in a way that adds meaning to the random events of life? If so give yourself 5 points. If you’ve started writing these stories down, give yourself an extra point for every story you’ve started and an extra 5 for every story you’ve finished.
  4. You DREAM IN STORIES or WAKE UP with story lines fully formed, or a CHARACTER wanting to be written. Do you remember your dreams and think, now THAT would make a great story! Do you wake up with the beginnings of stories in your head, with sentences, maybe whole paragraphs already formed? I woke up once with this: “My name is Condolezia, but I don’t speak Spanish. I was born the year after my brother who died the day he was born.” It was so strong I still remember it! Do you daydream in stories? Do characters tap you on the shoulder and demand to be heard, to have you write them into being? Give yourself 5 points if any of these nerdy, wordy visitations have happened to you. Give yourself an extra 5 for every story you’ve written from these prompts.
  5. You FIND YOURSELF WRITING YOUR LIFE WHILE YOU’RE LIVING IT! This is a sure sign you’re a writer. If, in the midst of some life drama, turmoil, blessing or tragedy you find yourself searching for the words to describe it, then you are unmistakably a writer. The day my infant son died, I found myself sitting on the loo thinking about how I could ever write this terrible story. Thinking of a title. “Of Milk and Blood” I thought was pretty good. But I thought again and ended up with my Guide Through Grief instead. So if you’ve found yourself sitting among the wreckage, thinking up titles for this period of your life, then, I’m both afraid and proud to say – You, my friend, are a writer! It’s a blessing and a curse. Sometimes I just want to LIVE something without putting it into words. Give yourself 10 points if this kind of thing has happened to you. An extra 10 for every story inspired in a similar way, that you actually wrote.

SO, are you a writer?

IF YOU SCORED

0-5 points you love to read, but haven’t actually spent much time writing or even thinking about writing. You’re happy to let others do the story telling. The world needs readers and we writers LOVE YOU!

5-15 pointsyou love reading and writing and a deep part of you is calling out to be expressed in words. All you need to do is give yourself a chance. Try getting some of those stories out of your head and onto the page! See here for a guided meditation to quiet that inner critic holding you back and get you started!

15 – 30 pointsyou’ve got what it takes to be a writer! In fact, you know it in your heart but you just need a little nudge to get those stories out of your head and onto the page. See here for a FREE WORKSHOP that will help you use all those great inspirations and thoughts to create stories.

30 points and over – CONGRATULATIONS! YOU’RE A WRITER! Yes you are! You know this, you’ve been writing and getting some of those ideas onto paper. Writing is a rewarding and fulfilling lifestyle. Writers are always observing and learning and creating meaning through words. Words bring comfort and order to our lives. We can create something beautiful from all we experience, even the darkest moments. See here for an affordable live online course in creative writing that will give you all the craft knowledge you need to make your stories engaging and compelling and, most of all, publishable!

WHATEVER YOU SCORED, if you’re reading this post, something is calling you to writing. Consider yourself on notice. Sooner or later you’re going to have to get those stories out of your head and onto the page. See my FREE WORKSHOP and then check out my UPCOMING CRASH COURSE IN CREATIVE WRITING

Let me help you set out on the magical journey of writing! I’ve been writing and publishing for over 20 years and have been teaching creative writing at universities, schools, festivals, at the Queensland Writers Centre and in the community since 2005. I’ve helped more writing students than most people have had hot dinners, so let me help you make a start on your writing adventures too. See more about me HERE.

Now, stop reading and start writing!

Wishing you the joy of creativity this holiday season. May you and yours connect in love and harmony and may the year ahead be filled with fun, creative adventures, lots of laughter and friends and fantastic good luck! YAY!

Lots of love

Edwina xx

PS. Remember to check out my UPCOMING CRASH COURSE IN CREATIVE WRITING

CREATE COMPLEX CHARACTERS IN 5 EASY STEPS

How do we make our characters real? We want every important character in our books and stories to be well-rounded, with strengths and weaknesses, secrets, a past, and hidden flaws and virtues. Trouble is when we start writing we sometimes forget this, and our characters die on the page before they’ve even had the chance to come to life. 

Here are some concrete, easy ways to really get to know your characters and to translate this knowledge into complex, intriguing characters on the page. Remember, above all else, characters reveal who they are by how they ACT. CharACTers take action and make moves based on their own inner callings and desires. These exercises are for the writer’s benefit only. Write as much or as little as you like on each step, then incorporate the very best telling details, insights and possible plot points into your project. The better you know your character, the more rounded they’ll be on the page.

Let’s get to it!

1 Physicality – Describe your character’s appearance. Pay special attention to small details like whether or not their fingernails are clean, how old their clothes are, what care they put into their appearance, and any specific details that give us clues to who they are. Where do they get their clothes? The very best fashion boutiques or second-hand stores? What does their voice sound like? What’s their favourite expression? What do they smell like? Why? What is the texture of their skin? How do they feel in their bodies. (This is a great exercise to do if you can suspend disbelief and get into the body of your character and FEEL what it’s like to be them.) Find some special talisman, good luck charm or something else they hold dear to them – maybe a piece of jewellery or something they keep in their pocket or purse. What meaning does it hold for them? Why?

2. Next, describe where your character lives. Where do they call home? What telling details can you find in their living spaces? Photographs or paintings on the walls? General tidiness or not. Music? What clues does their environment give you to their character? Find a few specific details that reveal something about them. Then do the same when describing the contents of their fridge or cupboards, their dressing table or bathroom cabinet. What new clues to their personalities can you discover? Let your imagination do the work – free-write and see where your intuition takes you. Do the same for their handbag, wallet, backpack or briefcase – what stands out as unusual? You are looking for unique, unexpected, telling details.

3. Scar from the past. Even if your character is a child, they have a past. What were the shaping incidents in this character’s life that influenced the person they’ve become? For example, as a middle child Frankie always tried to get her mother’s attention by either being good, or by being naughty. She soon learnt she got more attention from being naughty which has shaped how she now interacts in the world as a disruptor and political activist. Write a few pages on the different shaping events in your characters life. How have these events shaped them? What decisions or beliefs about how life is, or patterns of behaviour resulted? What deep emotional desire was inspired by these happenings? This last point is most important. WHAT IS YOUR CHARACTER’S DEEPEST EMOTIONAL OR SPIRITUAL GOAL?

4. Life goals – You’ve figured out what your story person wants most emotionally, but we live in a world obsessed by more worldly desires. What are your character’s physical goals? Career ambitions, romance and family, revenge, fame and fortune, justice, healing, finding someone or somethingWrite a monologue in their first person voice, getting them to tell you what they want, what they really, really want (Paraphrasing the Spice Girls 🙂 ). This monologue will also help you find their natural speaking voice for dialogue – or for a whole piece in first person.

Once you have figured out what these goals are, then figure out which are most important for your story. Which goals have the most potential for drama and conflict? What are possible oppositions to these goals? Remember, don’t make things too easy for your characters. Narrative needs conflict like we need air to breathe. No conflict, no story. Identify your character’s goals on three levels – Physical world, Emotional and Spiritual. Do these somehow fit together? This will help shape your plot. By having a deep understanding of your characters on all these levels you’ll know their motivations in every scene and can create meaningful opposition to their goals that will force them into taking action which will in turn reveal more about their character.

5. Secrets. Hidden flaws and talents. Looking closely at the picture you’re building of your character, go deeper and get them to spill the beans on their darkest secrets and hidden fearsWrite another monologue that starts with: “I never usually tell anyone this but …” Before you know it, you’ll have some very juicy material to use in your story. Other goals may be generated, but mostly it will give you great insight into how they see themselves and the world. Get them to tell you about their strengths and weaknesses, but once they’re done, play psychiatrist and delve deep into their psyches to figure out which flaw will play into their downfall and what hidden talents or abilities may lead them to victory in the end? Write a list of flaws and talents and write possible plot points that could be caused by each of these. Write at least one positive story event and one possible negative result or action springing from each of these.

That’s it! Once you know the deepest heart of your characters, whenever you write a scene their actions and reactions will come to you instinctively, because you know them so well. EASY!

The reader does not need to be privy to all this information, but you do! Don’t put it all in the story but let this background knowledge inform the whole story. Use your character’s past, flaws and talents to shape a meaningful plot with a character arc that feels real, because it springs from deep desires and ancient wounds. Reveal different meaningful aspects of the character’s past as a drip feed throughout the story so the reader comes to understand them gradually – no big info dump at the start! And remember to always leave room for your characters to surprise you! If they suddenly say something or do something that you hadn’t planned, then let them have their heads for a while and see where it takes you.

Hope that’s useful! Let me know how you go with the activities. Here are more posts on character creation The C- Word Method and Will She or Won’t She.

Lots of love

Edwina xx