Test yourself: Should you be a writer?

Do you dream of seeing your name printed on top of a magazine or newspaper story? Do you long to pick up a book that you wrote? Does the idea of being a writer thrill you?

If you have these longings, you have plenty of company. And in case you think you're too young to see yourself in print, consider Alexandra Sheedy. In 1975 (at age 13) she wrote a book on Queen Elizabeth I (the book is called "She Was Nice to Mice").

Usually only adults write books, but you can act now to head yourself in the "write" direction. You can pave the way to being a successful writer.

How? If you are like many who hope for a writing career, you aren't sure where to begin -- or whether you should. Your first step should be to see how deep your writing interests lie. Take the following quiz, then study its answers. If you don't yet have the interest and frame of mind for writing, you have lots of time. But now is the time to start. Quiz for would-be writers

Directions: After reading each question, jot down your answer. Be as honest as possible -- you're the only one who needs to see what you write.

1. Do you read a lot?

2. Do you like to write letters?

3. Are you fascinated by new and unusual words?

4. When you find a word you don't know, what do you do?

5. Do you enjoy telling stories to your friends?

6. Do you ask for books as gifts?

7. Have you ever kept a diary or journal?

8. Are you interested in people -- all kinds of people and what makes them tick?

9. Are you curious about many things?

10. Do you daydream?

11. How observant are you?

12. What will you do after you take this quiz? Answers' to quiz

1. The more you read, the more you will be ready to become a writer. Read more than your school assignments. Read to discover the many and varied styles of writing. Learn to know many authors.

2. If you like to write letters, it's a sign that you want to share your thoughts and feelings. This is what writing is all about.

3. If you are attracted to new and unusual words and enjoy using them, your writing will have color and liveliness. Writers who use the same words again and again become dull.

4. If you use the dictionary while you read, you value precision (one dictionary meaning of precision is "exactness"). You want to know exactly what the author means and are not content to settle for less. That's a fine trait in anyone, but for a writer it's a must.

5. And do your friends listen with interest? Often a person who can tell a story can also write one, though the two talents are not always found together.

6. If you love books -- and all writers do -- your love of the written word will help in your writing. Most writers can't own enough books.

7. If you haven't tried it, begin now. Such writing allows you to examine your thoughts closely and encourages you to express them. It also forces you to write regularly, that is, to become disciplined. A writer must be disciplined, for talent without discipline yields little.

8. People are what stories are all about. Unless you find them interesting, it is hard to write stories that have interest.

9. You must be curious in order to learn a lot, and you must learn a lot before you can write something worthy of reading.

10. Daydreams are a sign that you have an active imagination, and that's what every writer needs. Just don't let your daydreams take over!

11. Writers must be very observant, for they paint "word pictures" for their readers. You can train yourself by noticing what meets your senses daily. How would you explain these things to someone not present? Be specific.

12. If you have nothing specific in mind, you may find that a writing career is not for you. If this quiz makes you feel enthusiastic about being a writer, that's great, and you can begin working on your skill now.

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