11 Weird Habits That All Writers Will Find Deeply Relatable
When I was little, I assumed that "being a writer" meant sitting down every day at my vintage typewriter, perhaps in a rustic woodland cabin, with my golden retriever at my feet, and "writing my novel." It all seemed so simple. But now that I am an adult human woman, I've come to understand that "being a writer" means working a number of part-time jobs, eating dry cereal at all hours of the night, mumbling to myself on the subway platform, and worrying that my Google search history is going to land me on the FBI watch list. It's all just a tad weirder than younger me thought it would be... but "weird" isn't necessarily "bad." Here are a few of the weird things that all writers do, because there's no right or wrong way to write.
Writing, after all, is a bit of a lonely profession. No matter how many cool workshop groups you join, or how many inspirational Pinterest boards you create, you're going to end up spending a lot of time alone with that blinking cursor on that blank screen. And being alone with your thoughts so much, it's only natural that you might develop a few... odd habits. Just know that as far as writer weirdness goes, you're not alone:
1. You talk to yourself
You read sentences out loud to yourself. You read dialogue out loud to yourself. You outline plot points to yourself. You even occasionally do that thing from the movies where you psych yourself up in the mirror. You might get so used to talking to yourself, in fact, that you accidentally start doing it in public (right? please tell me that other people do that, too).
2. You talk to your characters
Fiction writers, this one is for you. I mean sure, you created your characters and yes, you know that they're entirely fictional. But sometimes you find yourself making conversation with them anyway. Most of the time it's fairly civil. It's when you start yelling at your own made up characters for not obeying you, their omnipotent creator, that it starts to get... a little... weird...
3. You stalk baby name websites
You see a lot of targeted ads for new parents on the internet, but you're really just on baby name websites to look for character names. At least, you were looking for character names at first, but now you're several pages deep into the etymology of the name "Lisa."
4. You have a terrifying internet search history
Every writer has, at some point or another, ended up on the Wikipedia page for the Donner Party. Or Googled "how long does it take a human limb to decompose." Or unintentionally stumbled on a Flat-Earther page. You might have the internet search history of a very incompetent serial killer and/or a conspiracy nut, but you're really just trying to get some research done on this new story (you promise).
5. You wear pajamas all day and sometimes lose all sense of reality
When the writing flow is good, nothing else matters. But that does mean that you sometimes wear pajamas all day, eat dinner at 2am, go for a week without seeing sunlight, and completely lose track of your position on the space-time continuum.
6. You eavesdrop constantly
You never know when you'll hear the perfect snippet of dialogue. So you find yourself listening in to strangers conversations... a lot. And writing down the things they say. It's only creepy if you get caught, right?
7. You find very specific tasks to complete in order to avoid writing
How on earth are you supposed to get any writing done when you still have to do laundry? And clean the windows? And bathe the cat? And download the perfect font? And upcycle your old porch rail into a coat rack? And perfect your autumn squash risotto recipe, because writing is impossible and you just don't want to do it?
8. Staring dramatically into space
Most writers appear to be quiet, brooding people, when in fact they are just struggling to think of a good synonym for the word "gargle." Even when you're out with friends, you sometimes stare sorrowfully into the middle distance, wondering if you should cut that one fight scene, or trying to decide what baby centaurs look like.
9. You make a meal out of horrific snack foods
The diet of your average writer veers wildly from raw carrots to dry ramen to cold pizza to frosting straight of the can (or why not try all of them together?). Writers tend to be short on time and on cash, and in desperate need of snacks at all hours of the day and night. The result is a bizarre smorgasbord of foods that were definitely not meant to be eaten together.
10. You frequently forget how to spell simple words
After typing for several hours straight, your brain starts to leak out of your ears, and all common knowledge of spelling goes flying out the window. Is it "tunnel" or "tunnle"? Is "of" spelled with a "v"? How the hell do you spell "necessary"? The more time you manage to spend actually writing at your keyboard, the more words start to look like a bunch of little squiggles with no inherent meaning.
11. You find inspiration in the strangest of places
The vast majority of writing is grinding away at your keyboard, or rewriting a draft for the umpteenth time, or staring blankly at the wall until it's time for bed. Every once in a while, though, you'll find yourself struck by inspiration. And more often than not, it'll come from the strangest of places: the name of Starbucks' new seasonal beverage, or a gif that your friend sent you, or that poster that's been on your wall for years. It may not make any sense, but you'll take whatever you can get, because the best ideas can sneak up on you in the weirdest ways.