A List of Things That Don’t Make You A Writer

When I moved to Austin, I was surprised to learn that every guy and gal hanging out at a coffee shop was a novelist, every barista was sitting on a few truly outstanding, and unpublished, literary masterpieces, and everyone with a beard, a bike or a flowery skirt was either a great poet, the next Flannery O’Connor or the creator of the most amazing movie script in the history of scripts. It took me a week to figure out it was all bullshit. Then I learned that it’s even worse online. To help you figure it out faster, and to clarify things for all the “writers” out there, here’s a list of things that don’t make you a writer:

  1. Owning a laptop.
  2. Going to a coffee shop.
  3. Owning a cat.
  4. Putting the word author in your Twitter bio.
  5. Drinking/talking about/enjoying coffee.
  6. Living next to a university.
  7. Hanging out with writers.
  8. Telling people you’re working on something.
  9. Putting on a “funny” literary shirt.
  10. Naming your pets after characters in famous novels.
  11. Reading Rick Moody or pretending to have read and/or enjoyed David Foster Wallace and Thomas Pynchon.
  12. Having a Goodreads account.
  13. Listening to obscure bands that like to use more than twenty words per song.
  14. Watching a lot of art films.
  15. Complaining about the state of publishing.
  16. Going to AWP.
  17. Saying authors are your heroes.
  18. Hating James Patterson.
  19. Hating YA.
  20. Talking about writing on Facebook.
  21. Sharing fake word counts.
  22. Being unemployed.
  23. Lounging.
  24. Being a fucking beer snob.
  25. Wearing glasses.
  26. Correcting your friends’ grammar.
  27. Describing yourself as an author/writer/wordsmith.
  28. Living in an artsy (aka gentrified) part of town.
  29. Applying to low residency MFAs.
  30. Having ideas.
  31. Thinking you have what it takes to write a novel.
  32. Reading more than ten books per year.
  33. Skimming through literary blogs.
  34. Claiming no one understands you.
  35. Buying a typewriter.

Yeah, basically the only thing that makes you a writer is writing, so get to it.

Gabino Iglesias is a real writer and here is the link to prove it. 


19 Responses

  1. One more…saying, “I’ve got an idea for a book, it’ll be great, etc….” And two years later, you’re still talking about that great idea, and haven’t done s–t.

  2. OMG, thank you for this! I don’t do any of those things on the list and I was starting to think I was some kind of loser because all I do is sit in front of my screen and put down a bunch of words that I think are going to totally suck. But there are 74,284 of them. (For real – says so right at the bottom of my yWriter screen.)

  3. Yup 30 of them. What’s a MFA? I know what the MF stands for but the A? Maybe I have 31. Maybe I have 32 if you count the stray cat I have been feeding in my garage for two years…that would count right?

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