We have been called many things in our day, we writers. As kids we’re called “geek” and “nerd” and “book-worm” and “weird” and as teenagers we’re called “ambitious” and “creative” and if we survive all this, we’re left to adulthood where we’re sometimes written off and labeled “eccentric” or “artsy” and left to our own devices in a coffee-shop while the rest of the world goes to Barnes & Noble to read the fruit of the labors of the people they’ve misunderstood since elementary school.
And for all this, we just smile and tuck into our work with a satisfaction not everybody finds in their chosen field. But sometimes we like to know there are people like us out there so I’ve compiled a list of twenty-one ways to identify a fellow writer:
1.) He will brush the spine of a book with one finger before taking it off the shelf. He’s probably admiring the cover designer’s job and calculating the number of days left till his own proof-copy arrives. Also, he just likes the feel of a book in his hands.
2.) She will freeze up momentarily, then order something with a simple name at Starbucks. Chances are, she’s rehearsed some complicated order for days and then it all flew out the window when she saw the barista with the scar behind the counter and started wondering...
3.) She will correct her posture often. Long days spent at her desk will have taught her the pain of hunching forward.
4.) She will pick up pennies and dimes other people have dropped. This is a person who not only notices details, but is also saving change - probably for a “Buying Books Fund”.
5.) Listen to him tell you about the latest film he saw. Mentions of the character development or plot arc will outweigh mentions of soundtrack, action sequences, or actors’ performances.
6.) She will always end up signing napkins at a restaurant. Don’t blame her. She’s not practicing autographs - her hand unconsciously wants to write and her name is the first thing that comes to mind.
7.) He will care to notice things most people overlook. Bonus points if he’s first to mention the stars or moon while walking across the driveway.
8.) She will already be watching the same people you noticed. Tried and true thing, here.
9.) He does not use the word “nice” in conversation. Any writer knows that “nice” is forbidden from civilised literature.
10.) Her written communication (email, text, facebook) will be devoid of exclamation points. Another habit learned from culling that particular punctuation mark in edit-rounds.
11.) She will not use text-speak in conversation. That is the chiefest of all sins to someone who values English.
12.) His face betrays him while perusing a book. Someone who really loves the written word can’t help but smile a little when they pick up a novel in a store and flip through the pages.
13.) She is an adult browsing the mid-grade and teen sections in a bookstore. Parents and guardians purchase books from Amazon. Chances are you are looking at an intense research session.
14.) He is proficient at typing but still hen-pecks over on the number-pad. This is a person who is familiar with all the letters of the alphabet and punctuation marks but doesn’t have much use for numbers. (Thank heaven.)
15.) You mention an unusual name and she asks you to repeat it. You know the drill. New characters are battering around in her brain looking for a christening.
16.) Her hair is always half-way tumbling down. She probably stuck a pen through her bun to keep it up and had need for the pen at some point during the day.
17.) He actually likes tea and has heard of P.G. Tips. A guy who has gone the next level for tea has inevitably patterned his habits off C.S. Lewis. He is likely a writer/reader type.
18.) His handwriting is legible. Most guys don’t bother to take notes or scrawl phone-numbers neatly unless they are in the habit of needing to be able to read longer passages of what they have written.
19.) She is frequently neat and attractive but doesn’t look Pinterest-ready. This is the mark of a girl who finds personal appearance important but often has to skip straightening her hair because she wants to squeeze in another 300 words before breakfast.
20.) You say “Tom Hiddleston” and he mentions Henry V. Real Hiddleston fans love him for his Shakespearean performances and Kenneth Branagh will follow quickly thereafter.21.) They give you an empty, college-ruled journal and smooth pens for a gift. To a writer, this is always an acceptable gift to give. They are handing you a bit of their soul when they spend money on paper and ink for you.