1. …as a kid you made up stories about people in the car next to you, who they are, where they’re going, and what difficulties they’re facing. This is especially true if you’re still doing it as an adult.
2. …your spouse finds you weeping uncontrollably because the character you sketched has led such a tragic life.
3. …you just bought an extensive book of baby names for your fifty-ninth birthday.
4. …you ask the emergency room nurse to hurry and get you a paper and pen before they put you under so you can capture what it feels like to have your appendix burst.
5. …your purse or billfold contains more scraps of paper with story ideas and turns of phrase than money.
6. …you get excited when you take a wrong turn at midnight in the inner city of East Chicago and your car breaks down because—just like your protagonist—you’ve never felt fear that intense.
7. …your spouse offers to take you out to eat and you opt for a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and writing time on the computer.
8. …you’re not sure if the story idea you fleshed out is in the folder marked “ideas”, the stack of papers on your desk, one of your journals, or on the back of an envelope you tucked into a cookbook.
9. …you not only listen to strangers while sitting in restaurants, you actually join the conversation so you can find out more details.
10. …you intend to “edit this one paragraph” before going to bed and the next thing you know the sun is coming up.
Mary Allen may be a writer. She thinks about story-lines, characters, and events all the time. Even a simple walk on the lake turns into an interview with an ice fisherman. She's having so much fun she's embarrassed when somebody says, "So you write. Sounds hard. I could never do that."