P.S. Yes I do know ‘Writerly’ is not a word. Yes, I will use it anyway. Sue me.
So I’m a writer. Despite the appalling lack of evidence to back this up, I still consider myself a writer. If not yet physically, then at least in my heart. I can’t point out exactly when I started wanting to create my own stories. I remember thinking up one story when I was… 8 maybe. At that age, I was obsessed with superheroes (still am honestly) so naturally it was about a rag tag band of heroes who suspiciously closely resembled myself and my siblings. I ended up making it into a comic. I’ve worked on (but hardly completed) different projects since, ranging from high school romances to crime thrillers. As different as the projects were, there was something that didn’t change.
Of course I got better. My writing style did evolve. My outlook on life changed. But those traits and habits that made me different from every other person remained. As I grew I began to recognize those traits in other writers and creatives. Those habits that used to make me feel strange, odd and sometimes, downright dysfunctional began to mean to me a sort of identification, a stamp, the things that characterized me as a writer. I wear those traits proudly now.
Today, I’ve cataloged some characteristics I found common between myself and some of my writer friends.
I have this app on my phone called Colornote where I write down everything (including the draft for this post). For me, it’s like there’s this fear of losing my thoughts, my words. I almost see the words slipping out of reach immediately I think them and so there’s an almost painful need to document everything. Whenever something makes sense to me, whether it’s listening to an Anatomy lecture or having character ideas pop into my head, I have to write it down. I just have to.
This also translates to list-taking- I have lists for everything. To do lists, shopping lists, bucket list, lists of things upsetting me, kill lists (yes, you read that right). It also translates to journaling (taking down monumental life experiences).
This also means that librarians hate you because you can’t help scribbling in the margins of the books especially when you don’t have a notepad nearby.
It’s not OCD. Really, it’s not.
So if you have a journal or a notepad or an app that you frequently write in then you may just be a writerly type. And the reason you’re excessively taking notes is probably because…
Maybe you literally stop in the middle of a sentence or a thought and think to yourself ‘Man, that would make a great story/ blog post.’ Maybe you tell your friends to stop, rewind and repeat a particularly inspiring phrase. Maybe you’ve woken up and immediately rushed to find a notepad so you can jot down the details of that bizarre dream you had before you forget it. Maybe ideas materialize out of everyday activities like brushing or going to church. If anything you see has the potential to trigger stories then you are probably a writerly type.
This particular post idea came to me on the toilet. True story.
I wouldn’t be able to look myself in the mirror if I didn’t mention this early in the post. Because it is monumental. To even desire to write, you must be an avid reader. You must devour books. You must find words riveting. You must believe they have the power to move people because they in fact move you all the time.
Bookshops are to me what gold is to a leprechaun. I can spend hours just smelling them (books smell awesome) not to mention reading them.
Confession: Sometimes, I get tingly … like goosebumps all over when I hear/read a particularly beautiful piece of prose or a brilliant turn of phrase. I believe I’ve heard the word ‘Word-gasm’ used somewhere before.
This brings me to…
I thought this deserved its own shiny bullet point because it is different from just reading. I devoured the thesaurus and dictionary throughout high school and even now. I collect quotes and phrases (you know, those ones that get me tingly). Sometimes, I look up quotes just for this purpose. I am constantly looking up words I don’t know and it bothers me when people (even me) don’t use the correct tenses. That’s probably why I feel so odd, speaking –or trying to speak- pidgin. Like my skin is crawling. Not that I have anything against Pidgin. Come on, I’m not a total word snob. I honestly envy people who can speak it so well and i really wish I could.
As much as I loved Black Panther, I personally found the whole story line to be predictable but that’s just me.
Do you find yourself constantly saying something along that line? I do. It drives my siblings nuts. But it’s simple really. Every director wants to deliver a good story so they will take the story in whatever direction that will deliver the best story. Even when it means killing off a character. And it’s usually a character dispensable enough to be forgivable but important enough to affect the story ergo Zuri.
Maybe this is why I find I’m hard to please when it comes to movies and why I’m always so excited when I finally come across a movie that can shock me.
No, it’s not ADD. It’s just that… how awesome would it be if dinosaurs were still among us… sorry, what was I saying before… oh yes, we have a tendency to drift and day-dream. That’s not to say we can’t concentrate if we need to (it’s a chore paying attention in class but we gotta do it) but sometimes we don’t want to put in the effort of staying our mind. So we lift the anchor and let our minds sail. That’s why I love activities like exercising (or I will when I start doing it), walking, doing dishes. Because those are activities I do on auto-pilot.
Unfortunately, this means sometimes people can be an inconvenience because you have to drop the anchor on your admittedly awesome mind to pay attention to them.
Just a little bit. Sometimes, without even thinking. Oh, you don’t change the main events but the little things e.g. maybe you slipped and fell in the store in front of two store attendants and felt embarrassed. At a later recounting of the story, you might add a dozen extra people to the background and say that you toppled a whole shelf of stuff when only one toothbrush actually fell.
It’s not technically lying… is it? Maybe. I don’t know.
When I do this, I realize it’s mostly from a subconscious desire to tell a good story. By raising the stakes. Adding more conflicts. More drama.
This goes for pencils, pens and any other stationery.
Maybe you just love the look and feel of a new notebook. The lack of dog ears, the full weight in your hands. Perfect. Not a page out of place. You almost don’t want to use it.
Also maybe like me, you’ve convinced yourself that to get those creative juices flowing, you need a new spiral bound hard cover note book and a new sharp pointed Cristal Bic pen. And maybe this is true. I personally never finish one book before I move onto another one. I have concluded that I’m addicted to the thrill of starting a new book. For me, old ideas written on a new book have fresh possibilities. And so I keep an enormous collection of new notes, ready when I need them. It’s completely bourgeois but hey, whatever gets the writing done, right?
Because our quiet time is so important to us. I realized long ago that while human interaction is essential, solitude is equally important, if not more. Sometimes, I find myself purposefully ignoring chats and calls, cutting corners and taking the long way around just so I won’t have to interact with other people. Because sometimes I need a break from people-ing. I need time to myself to read, daydream, reflect, muse, talk to myself. These are things that I believe are important in maintaining my imagination and so are completely essential.We're not rude. Sometimes we just need a break from people-ing.Click To Tweet
It’s that insatiable curiousity. We take note of the way people talk, the way they walk, the phrases they use. Somehow, we know that girl in class touches the tips of her nose while she’s thinking. Or that the guy who’s always at the back hops a little bit on every third step. In a way, we’re like detectives. We see something curious and we investigate. We want to know what that kid said to make his mom laugh so animatedly. And what those two guys from completely different social groups have to talk about.
We can’t help it. After all, it’s all this information that feed ideas for our writing projects.
Maybe that’s why we’re such avid readers. Because we crave to do the things the characters in our favourite books do. We want to tour Europe, slay dragons, sour above in a hot-air balloon, attend a magical school for wizards. All things being equal, we would be on our way to doing these things. But sometimes, reality prevents us from chasing these dreams and so, we must live dangerously through our characters.We must live dangerously through our characters Click To Tweet
As writers, words have deeper meaning to us than most people. We imagine too much. We have loud minds. We get easily upset because we are emotionally sensitive. We appreciate a well-made movie. We appreciate music more because they condition our emotions. We imagine the best things, much of which we are too lazy to put down on paper. –IJEOMAH KENE.
I’m a thinker and a feeler. There’s this intuition that comes with knowing good work or penning your own. As a writer, I have an eye for good work, I read voraciously, I read to write, I write to reflect myself and I am a good re-writer. -EZIAGHIGHALA CHINAZA
Chinaza is a writer and a blogger. Check out her new blog, Lieberean.
So if you’ve ever wondered if you’d make a good writer. Or if you’ve always wanted to write but you never thought you had what it takes, now you know you do. All you have to be is a little weird.
And remember, this is just a list peculiar to my friends and I and is not exhaustive even for us. So even if you don’t have any of these traits, it doesn’t mean you’re not a writerly type.
Also just being a writerly type doesn’t make you a writer. To be a true writer, you can’t just take notes and day dream all day. You have to do one crucial, very important thing.
You have to… WRITE.
Write diligently, persistently, even if you don’t feel like it.
Good advice, right? Now if I could just take it myself.
So what do you guys think of this list? Which ones were spot on? Which ones were way off? Do you guys have any more?
I’m sure you have loads more to add. Can’t wait to hear them. Comment!
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Alright, it’s the end of the post which means: