Ten Ways Writers See the World Differently

So you’re a writer. Congrats! Welcome to the loony bin! Or, perhaps you know a writer and you’re wondering why they’re always mumbling to themselves and taking notes in a little spiral bound notebook and looking completely, utterly lost inside their own head. There’s something that’s just a little off about them, but you can’t understand what it is exactly. Well, I can’t promise you’ll ever make sense of them completely, but this list may point you in the right direction. These are ten ways writers see the world differently from the rest of you normal people. Yes, we’re a little bit nuts. And no, we’re not all alcoholics and shut-ins in desperate need of social interaction. We’re plenty social. Most likely from the comfort of our own computers. *cough cough* On with the list!

1.  We Have a Love Affair With Words

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We’re those people that actually paid attention in English class. Expanding our vocabulary is just something we do. Half the time we’re not even conscious of it. I’ll be reading along and discover some new word I’ve never seen and before you know it I’m gobbling up the definition and re-reading the sentence a few times to fully understand it and then storing the word away in my mental word database for later use. I may even try and use it in a sentence, in which case I get weird looks from my non-writer friends. Oh well. At least I can feel smart.

We especially love it when we read a sentence that uses a familiar word but in a very unique way. Clever word usage is something we live for. Like this:

“He was a wiry little guy, and his black hair stood up helter-skelter, like the fur of a frightened cat.” –Turn Coat by Jim Butcher

Isn’t that just the best? *sigh*

2.  Reading Is Actually Fun

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I have so many friends that just…don’t read. And for the life of me I can’t understand why. Granted, reading is more work than watching a T.V. show or a movie, but it’s well worth the energy and concentration. Writers understand this better than anyone, because as I mentioned before, we’re real word-junkies. The written word (when done right!) just beats out visual special effects on a movie screen any day. And although I love a good movie or well-crafted T.V. show, reading is still my favorite past time.

Most people stop reading books after high school or college is over. Writers read like their lives depend on it.

3.  Everybody’s A Character When You’re A Writer

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Writers are notorious people-watchers. We look at how people react to things–how they argue with each other, how they show affection, how they tell stupid awkward jokes that sometimes later make it into one of our stories. We study actors and how they deliver clever bits of dialogue, and how they successfully become these larger than life characters. It’s not uncommon for a writer to base a character, or multiple characters, off of real life people. Some of our best inspiration comes from observing the world around us, including all the crazy, awkward, and weirdly charming people out there. Life’s a stage, after all!

4. We Read the News. Real Life Events Often Spark Story Ideas

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When we’re not writing, reading or people watching, writers are usually on the hunt for the next story idea. Again, this isn’t something we do knowingly, it’s just how our brains are wired. There’s so many dramatic, heartwarming, and morbid things that happen out there every day. It’s an untapped wealth of story ideas just waiting to be utilized. Maybe we’ll only take a small portion of a headlining story and use it in our book, but the real world manages to inspire us day in and day out.

5. We Hold Imaginary Casting Calls For The Movie Version Of Our Book

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I’ve never met a writer that didn’t have at least one actor picked out for the imaginary movie version of their book. It’s kind of hard not to get excited by the thought when so many books are being made into movies these days. It’s like Hollywood has lost all creativity and now must rely on us authors to supply them with good stories. Which, hey, that’s fine by me! It just means more books getting read and sold and enjoyed all around.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an actor or actress and thought, oh, he/she’d be PERFECT for [insert character name here]! Then I start gathering images of said actor for inspiration and my imagination runs wild with how they’d be able to portray my character. It’s probably a little–okay, a lot–weird, but hey, I never said writers weren’t a bizarre bunch!

6. Being Alone For Long Stretches Of Time Is Awesome

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Nothing beats having an entire day to spend all by ourselves, locked in a room with our computer and nothing but hot tea/coffee/wine and our manuscript to keep us company. Writers tend to be pretty introverted people, which means alone time already comes with the territory. But as a writer, alone time is a necessary ingredient for what we do. While everyone else is out soaking up the sun and going to parties and shopping and socializing, we’d much rather be holed up with our characters, building entire worlds in our heads and spilling them onto the page. Don’t you know we have dozens of friends inside our heads? And sometimes we like them better than the real people in our lives. That’s just how it goes, Jack.

7. We Love A Good Keyboard and/or a Fresh Notebook

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Writers spend a LOT of time in front of a computer. We have to, it’s part of the job. So we get very attached to our equipment, especially our keyboards. While other people may put up with sticky or dusty keys that barely move when your finger taps them, we go certifiably crazy just at the thought.

Oh, and the mere presence of a brand new spiral bound notebook, fresh from the store and ready for our outpouring of story ideas, gives us chills of exhilarated pleasure. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve taken a notebook (sometimes better than a computer because it lacks the distractions of Facebook and Google), sat down in a big comfy chair, put my pen to the page and let out a glorious sigh of anticipation. What used to be boring homework for some is like heaven for a writer.

8. We Can’t Read Something Without Analyzing Every Aspect Of It

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Like I said, writers read. We read everything from news articles to research papers to mystery novels to Shakespeare. Some of us even dabble in poetry, because WORDS. But while we enjoy reading, we also tend to be critics. It’s just natural. When you get accustomed to proofreading your own work and pouring over red-hot corrections from your editor, you start to notice things like overused adverbs and repeated words and phrases and cheesy cliches. These kinds of things start to irritate writers when we read, and subconsciously we may start to correct sentences in our heads and read them that way instead. I’m guilty of it. I can’t help it. It’s just the way my brain is wired now that I’m a writer. But on the bright side, this habit of constantly analyzing sentences and word choices only sharpens our minds and hones our writing ability, so it’s all good.

9. We Relentlessly Compare Ourselves To Other Authors

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It’s only natural, in any profession, to compare yourself to your colleagues. Some of them you want to emulate, others you look at and think, how the heck did you get a book deal?? Envy is a sin nearly every writer is guilty of feeling at some point or another. We can’t help it. We all want to make it big and feel like we’re good enough to have legions of adoring fans coveting our books. In the end though, most of us won’t be the next J.K. Rowling, but we shouldn’t let that stop us from writing. Just like the air we breathe, writing sustains us. It keeps us alive. But that won’t keep us from rolling our eyes whenever a new Fifty Shades-type book comes out and makes some author a millionaire overnight. Pssh.

10. When It Comes Down To It, We’re Just Plain Nuts 

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I mean, what sane person sits at a computer and hammers out three, four, maybe even five thousand words in one sitting? What normal human being gets giddy at the idea of crafting new characters and choosing actors to play them in some wildly hopeful idea of the story one day becoming a movie? What rational mind puts itself through the torture of hours upon hours of planning, researching, writing, all for something that we’re not guaranteed to get paid for but is instead done in the name of fun? And yes, you better believe it’s fun. It’s the best fun we’ve ever had, which is why we keep doing it. Even though it drives us crazy and we lose sleep and occasionally skip meals, writing is a drug we need to keep hitting. It’s the source of all our madness and all our joy. We pride ourselves on our weirdness. It’s what makes us unique. It bonds us. Unites us. And in the end, don’t you want to be a part of this crazy little club we call writerdom? We have cookies and wine and sleepless nights. Come enjoy. I promise we don’t bite.

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