Monday, September 12, 2011

Have You Been Bitten?

A Creative Writing student made my day this morning. She stopped by my office to tell me how much she was loving the class, especially the first-chapter-of-a-novel assignment. She's never written a novel before, and said she was recently flooded with ideas, and was "obsessed" with the characters. She even stayed up until 4AM working on it (the paper isn't due for another two weeks!).

Who else but a WRITER can have this much enthusiasm about writing? I saw myself in her at that age -- the sparkle in her eye, the awareness that she'd just discovered something greater than herself (the appeal of writing). She's caught the writing bug, no doubt.

And it made me think -- any writer who loves writing, who sees it as a passion, has at one time or another been bitten by this bug.

Symptoms may include:

* excited lilt in the voice and brightness of eye when talking about writing
* forgoing sleep in lieu of writing "just one more page...."
* dreaming about your characters
* eternal hope that yes, one day, you might be published
* being utterly baffled that NOT EVERYONE IN THE WORLD shares your passion about writing (how can that be???)
* no longer reading for pleasure, but reading with a "writer's eye" - studying/observing the craft, the dialogue, the technique of another writer
* experiencing something and immediately thinking, "That would make a great storyline!"
* eavesdropping on people -- making mental (or literal) notes about the way people converse, dress, interact, react -- all so you can put it into a story later...

There are many more symptoms, but these were the ones I've experienced the most.

So -- have you caught the bug??

Warning: There's no cure. And those who have the bug don't want a cure. ;-)


  1. I am glad that there is no cure. Though I do find it difficult sometimes to balance reading for enjoyment and reading with a writer's eye, I am learning that it is essential for my development as a writer.

  2. Me too, Maurice - I tell my students that it's now almost impossible for me to read "just for fun." I find my "writer's eye" constantly studying the craft - dialogue, plot detail, characterization, etc. But, as you say, it's a must, for developing as a writer.

    I've assign my students a "book report," where they can choose any novel (even one they've read before), and I give them a list of questions they have to answer, that help them see that novel as a writer would see it. I hope to corrupt them, lol, and have them start reading as a writer. It's one of the best ways to improve.