I remember in sixth grade when my English teacher, Mr. Thompson, asked us to write an essay about someone we admire.
I had enjoyed writing in the past, but this was the first writing assignment I remember taking seriously. I spent the next day or two thinking of someone I admire, and wrote my essay.
A few days later, Mr. Thompson graded and returned our essays, except mine. “Where’s mine?” I thought to myself.
He then walked to the front of the class. “Everyone did such a great job on their essays, but there’s one that stood out to me.”
We all looked at each other, wondering whom he was talking about. He turned toward me.
“It was Julian’s essay,” Mr. Thompson continued, and then turned toward me. “Julian, do you mind if I read your essay to the class?”
“Uh, sure,” I said, unsure if I was either proud or embarrassed.
He lowered his reading glasses toward the tip of his nose, gazed down at my paper and began reading.
“The person I admire most isn’t a big movie star or rock star. He isn’t an NBA player like Michael Jordan or David Robinson. He’s not a wealthy businessman either. That person is my dad.”
He read the rest of my essay, then complimented me in front of the entire class and asked, “Julian, can I keep your essay? I’d like to share it with my other classes.”
“Sure,” I said, still in awe.
I got a 100 percent on that assignment.
I began to wonder if I had a gift for writing. I continued writing all through my teenage years. On certain weekends my family went out of town and I stayed home alone, I didn’t throw wild parties or have friends over. Like a true introverted writer, I spent it alone, getting lost in writing.
I’d turn off all the lights, light some candles, sit on the floor, get my laptop, turn on my Sony Discman, and just…write. That’s when I knew I wanted to be a writer.
After contemplating the art of writing over the years, I’ve concluded that there are certain special qualities writers have in common. Can you relate?
8 Special Qualities Writers Have
1. You explain yourself better in writing
I often have trouble expressing my feelings out loud. I sometimes struggle telling people stories orally because my thoughts are disorganized. I need to time to process my thoughts, organize them, and edit them in my head so they can make sense before I can tell them to others.
2. You daydream
There are tons of thoughts, story lines, and blogging ideas constantly brewing in my head.
Sometimes, as I lay awake at night, my mind drifts off as I imagine stories or future blog post ideas.
When I’m out in public, I enjoy people watching. I wonder what they’re like as a person. I wonder where they’re from, what they do for a living, what struggles they face, what makes them who they are.
When it comes to daydreaming, one of my favorite writers, Allen Eskens — author of the novel “The Life We Bury” — said it best. In grade school, Eskens’ teachers forbade him from sitting by the window because he would daydream too much. In his video introduction, he says:
“What I didn’t realize — and certainly what my teachers didn’t realize at the time — was I was writing stories in my head when I was daydreaming. I was creating characters, I was creating plots. And, it wasn’t until I was in high school that I connected thread between my daydreaming and writing when I got an assignment to write my very first short story. All I did was I took one my age my daydreams and put it paper.” — Allen Eskens
3. You can write almost anywhere
Whether you’re stuck in line at a grocery store, or on a bus or train, you can write just about anywhere, even if you only have a few minutes.
4. You write down ideas so you don’t forget them
I’ve had nights where I wake up with a writing idea or thought of a more eloquent way to explain something. I don’t want to forget it, so I pull out my phone and write in my Evernote app to embellish later.
5. Writing is something you’ve always wanted to do
I kept a journal throughout middle school and high school, and now, as a grown-up, it’s fun to look through them (and laugh about the stuff I wrote). In one entry, at age 16, I wrote about writing:
“Many times, I feel like I’m finding myself through writing. Other than church, God, and my friends and family, writing provides me with an authentic essence I get from nowhere else but within me. It’s something no one could ever take away. Writing will take me far someday, you’ll see.”
“Authentic essence?” Obviously, I was ahead of my own time, right? OK, probably not! But, it’s fun to read through these entries, see how much I’ve grown, and know that I’m living the dream of writing that I dreamed about as a teenager.
6. You pay attention to life experiences so you can write about them
Writers tell stories and often find ways to incorporate their own life experiences into their writing.
As a writer, I look for inspiration everywhere. I observe my present and my past — people I see, books I read, lessons my parents taught me, silly things my kids say and places I go — and wonder if there’s some way that I can include it in a blog post.
7. You talk to yourself
I talk to myself a lot, but only when I’m alone or when I think no one is listening. I promise I’m not crazy! I do it when I’m trying to find a solution to a problem I’m having, or if I’m trying to work my way through a blog post. It actually helps!
8. Writing is like therapy for you
Writers aren’t afraid to dive deep with their emotions. Whether you’ve had a bad day or a good day, you need a way to get all that negative or positive energy out onto a blank piece of paper or computer screen, and somehow, it helps you feel better.
“Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose, or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation.” -Graham Greene, author
Being a writer is a special gift. We see the world in a unique way. We notice things others don’t. We talk about things people are thinking, but are too afraid to say out loud. Then, we write about it and touch the lives of others. What a wonderful privilege that is.
So tell me…what’s your story? When did you realize you were a writer, and what does it do for you? What other special qualities do you possess as a writer that impact how you see the world?