Do you have what it takes to be a writer?

Do you know the feeling? You’re suddenly gripped by a story idea that’s absolute best seller material. You just know that this will get you out into the limelight where you belong. But then the acrid taste of doubt seeps in and erodes your quick confidence. Maybe you got stuck, have writer’s block, or nobody is reading your stuff anyway.

You slam your laptop shut, throw up your arms in consternation and ask yourself the brutal question: Do I really have what it takes to be a writer?

Look no further! Just spend 5 minutes on this test and you will know the definitive answer. Either that or have a reason to post a flaming comment below. However you feel about it, you will at least learn the most important skills that a writer should have or strive to develop. So give it a go! What have you got to lose?

Put yourself to the test

Here is how it works: answer each questions and gather your points together. In the end, the truth will be revealed and judgement rendered.

How many books, on average, do you read per month?Two points for each book.
Imagine you were a runner: what distance would you choose to compete over?0: Short sprints are what I’m good at.
1: I don’t know. Maybe a mile or two.
3: I’m going for the marathon!
How do you react if someone tells you that your manuscript isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on?0: They’re probably right. I’d better look for something else to do.
1: They just don’t get it!
3: They may have a point. Let’s sit down and see what didn’t work for them.
What’s your relationship to orthography, style, and grammar?0: Say what?
1: Without spell checking I feel naked.
3: I was my teacher’s favorite.
What have you written so far?0: I regularly text my friends.
1: I enjoy writing long letters and express myself across several pages.
3: I have a few unfinished manuscripts…
How many different shades of the color blue can you name?0: One or 2.
1: Between 3 and 5.
3: More than 5.

Time to face the truth

Whatever the result of this test, I hope you realize that it is only meant to get you thinking and acting in the right direction. These are the questions you need to ask yourself. So take this with the recommended dose of salt and don’t let this test stifle your enthusiasm!

16 points or higher:

Looks like you’re all set for a writing career. You’re reading a lot, which is good because that’s as important as writing to find your style and get better at it. If you have low marks on one of the other questions, don’t sweat it, you’re still strong on everything else. You can work on your weakness and not let it hold you back.

11-15 points:

You have many of the prerequisites for a writer already down pat. Still, there are probably a few areas that would benefit from more attention. Do you need to read more? That’s a great way to get better while enjoying yourself. Read at least two books a month and you should be fine. Do you need to get organized and bring some discipline into your life? Writing a novel is like running a marathon: pace yourself but keep running steadily. Are you easily discouraged by rejection or harsh critique? As a writer you will be rejected a lot. Learn to deal with it, it’s part of the trade. And, of course, use it to improve your work. Not so good when it comes to writing flawless English? Don’t kid yourself: if you are not confidently fluent in English, your writing will reflect that. What can you do to get better? Reading certainly helps. Sometimes what’s needed is a brush-up class in English writing.

The upshot is that you’ve got most bases covered. There are only one or two areas that need some work. Why not work on them while you’re already busy writing?

10 points or fewer:

The good news is that you have a pretty good idea what still needs work. My #1 advice is: read, read, and then read some more. Learn from successful authors in the genre which you picked for yourself. But writing also requires discipline, the ability to grow through rejections, being able to wield the language skillfully and with confidence, and be disciplined enough to keep progressing through the months (or years) it takes to finish a manuscript. If that list makes you cringe, maybe it’s better to ask yourself the important question: Is writing really what fits me best? Ultimately, though, no test will be able to answer this for you.

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