So, you want to be a writer?

Possibly the most over-asked off-the-cuff question I am asked as an astrologer is : “will I be a writer?”

It normally arrives in this exact format too, undisciplined, badly thought through, open-ended. It occurs (without wanting to split hairs particularly) that so long as one writes, one is by definition a writer. Of course, the question people are most especially asking is whether or not they have the astrological quality to become a successful, published, career author.

The binary nature of the human mind craves, inevitably a stark indicator of such destiny, an x + y = z signpost of such outright clarity and inevitability that somehow, were it present in the nativity the great American novel (or its geographically relocated counterpart) would somehow fall unbidden out of their brain onto paper and be snapped up by clamouring agents and rushed to print. Plaudits would ensue, and all that would be required was to be born at that fortuitous instant wherein success was guaranteed by the machinations of heaven’s unknowable mechanisms.

And of course such simplicity belies the myriad realities of this life. First there must be an idea, an original idea – or at least an idea of sufficient uniqueness as to slip out of the plagiarist’s attire – and then there has to be time and sufficient energy and self-discipline so as to actually write the thing, and attendant upon that must be a modicum of good grammar and a plot or premise worthy of extrapolation and then perhaps some luck and perseverance in the face of a world of indifference, the list goes on, and so it stands to reason that there ought not be a simple solution to the question: “will I be a writer?” Indeed, there is a veritable clamour of contingencies to consider – in the astrology as in life.

But this of course does not mean that there are not combinations which are helpful. I have studied the nativities of authors of various import and I have found a number of clear correspondences: no hard and fast rules (the wearisome cry of rule-bound, constipated statisticians notwithstanding) some extremely intriguing predilections too, and much of my study has involved halfsums, the third house, and of course the planet Mercury.

I can boldly claim that in the vast majority of cases other than the planet Mercury itself, Mars, Jupiter and Saturn are most commonly configured in the nativities of successful writers., in almost every case Mars is configured with Mercury or the third house or in an intriguing combination of midpoint factors. On the whole however, the flavour of the astrology has an influence not so clearly upon the binary nature of becoming an author or not, but rather on the style of work evinced. Neptune, for example, figures strongly in the charts of fantasy writers, Venus in romance, Uranus in science fiction and often there might be some other key factor which supercedes even these observations: Barbara Cartland for example evinces a cazimi Cupido…

I will then work on a spectrum of coarse to fine granularity and begin with that most reliable indicator of vocation: the midheaven. By far the most common signs on the 10th house cusp are Gemini, Aquarius and Aries; also to a lesser extent Scorpio. Taurus, Cancer, Libra, Sagittarius and Capricorn almost have no propensity toward a vocation as an author at all (but there are of course exceptions) while Virgo is rather surprisingly under-represented in the author community, which only underlines its lack of suitability as Mercury’s domicile (in this astrologer’s humble view). Aries of course has a go it alone tendency that is undoubtedly well-suited to the solitary pursuit of slogging through an entire manuscript. Gemini, ruled by the writer’s own Mercury is an easy bet, while Aquarius seems to enjoy the novelty of writing novels. Gemini appears to offer the greatest hope for the aspiring author since it appears on the 10th house cusp of a veritable raft of well-known authors thus:

  • Charlotte Bronte
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Oscar Wilde
  • J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Charles Dickens
  • George Orwell
  • Jane Austen
  • Jack Kerouac
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Louisa May Alcott

Aquarius follows a close second with such luminaries as:

  • George Bernard Shaw
  • Mary Shelley
  • Isaac Asimov
  • Jules Verne
  • Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Leo Tolstoy
  • Jack London

To name but a few, and invariably the quality of those novelists is quite distinctive with a marked leaning toward offbeat and rather fantastical genres of fiction being in evidence. It must be remembered though that the Midheaven is but a broad stroke in the matter of the vocation and the condition of its ruler and any major tenants must also be considered.

Next then, the third house. Inevitably, Mercury’s accidental dignity ought to be considered since this represents the area of life most suited to the expression of communication, thus any planet found herein will lend its energy to the writer’s craft. Now it should be no surprise to find that an untenanted 3rd is really quite rare in the astrology of proven writers. That is not to say that it is never to be found – far from it – but invariably there are compensations relating most especially to the Midheaven and the 10th which appear to compensate. Mary Shelley and Thomas Hardy are examples of excellence and cases in point, although both shared Pluto in the 10th (I have studied Hardy’s astrology in depth previously in my article: Pluto on the 10th, Thomas Hardy, Tragedian). Both Mercury (e.g. Oscar Wilde, Paulo Coelho, Jane Austen, Stephen King) and Mars (also Oscar Wilde, Victor Hugo, J.R.R. Tolkien) feature heavily in the 3rd houses of many well known writers; but invariably there are tenants in the 3rd regardless with a marked frequency in the cases of Sun, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn too. Moon, Uranus, Pluto and Chiron in the 3rd seem to be least common in the charts of well-known writers.

Noel Tyl made the rather remarkable claim that the midpoint of Mercury and Jupiter is the “signature of a writer” and I certainly understand the logic of that as an idea and I respect Mr Tyl greatly, however, I could not find many examples of this midpoint featuring in these various nativities. It might well indicate the signature of an aspiring writer of course, so I cannot say with any certainty, and about the only meaningful example I could find was that of Michael Crichton who evinced Ur=Me/Ju, thus individuation is realised through writing to improve oneself, to communicate one’s sense of life, through a certain prolific tendency in one’s writing too. Much more startlingly common, however, was the combination of Mercury with Mars in the halfsum, which speaks quite clearly to an exposition of communicative energy: and even where this is not present, there is very often a marked combination of Mercurial and Martian factors which suggests this same quality. Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling and Alex Haley (writer of Roots) all share, for example the conjunction, Alexandre Dumas and Tennessee Williams the sextile, Mars tenants the 3rd in numerous cases, and (as a further example of the potential for combination) Charlotte Bronte evinces a mutual reception of the two. In any case, the tendency to find these powers in some sense conjoined, either by midpoint, aspect, house placement or in some other pattern is distinctly marked.

Let us consider an example:

00) Bloemfontein S. Africa
J.R.R. Tolkien, author. 3 Jan 1892, 22:00 (EET -2:00) Bloemfontein S. Africa

Tolkien’s nativity is remarkable in several factors and carries a number of writer’s potentials:

  1. The square of Mercury to Saturn has an orb of a mere 2 minutes across the Libra and Capricorn Aries Points, thus giving an enormous tension to the need to write but with a real promise of fame or public recognition.
  2. The midheaven is in Gemini.
  3. Mars is on the 3rd.
  4. Pluto is applying hard to the 10th, tightly configured with Neptune.
  5. Following the same logic, the ruler of the 3rd is applying to the 10th, thus writing as a career is a distinct possibility and the Neptune conjunction speaks to an element of fantasy and imagination too.

Like any formula there must alwaysΒ  exist an element of je ne sais quoi in the pursuit of any life objective but the broad indicators are at the very least the sign of the Midheaven, third house tenants and the quality of its ruler also, and any combinations most especially of Mercury with Mars, providing energy, drive and motive power to the writing itself.

Of course, none of these will indicate talent (although Mercury quintiles might be suggestive of this and Tolkien has Me q Ju to his credit), and of course, the most pressing requirement for any writer, (and my most oft-quoted response to the question “will I be a writer?” ) ought to be clear: have you written a book?

It’s a great place to start.

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15 thoughts on “So, you want to be a writer?

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  1. Well said. I’ve gotten that open-ended “Will I be a writer?” myself many times–and one thing I’ve noticed is that, in the charts of those who indeed write for a living, in a capacity that doesn’t include bestselling success, the indicators you list for successful fiction writers aren’t necessarily present–instead the charts tend to look more like words and ideas aren’t the centerpiece, but a skill applied like any other.
    Thanks for an interesting read!

  2. You are so wise, Jeremy…great read and valuable info. I once read that someone also had to have a strong Saturn for the patience to finish a novel.

    I agree with what you say, I think that everyone who writes is a writer…I write and identify myself as a writer to other writers. I think people who ask that question often times want to know that their hard work will be validated by the public when simply, just like any other form of art…it may just go unnoticed.

    I sat next to a beautiful Aries girl at a show recently and she told me “I write poetry too, but it’s just so lame like everybody’s personal poetry!” and I had to tell her that her writing is important at the very least to her and she should not degrade it. It’s a form of expression like a painting and when you do it it should be to express something and not to get validation from others.

    Who want’s to be a career novelist anyway? It’s like when people want to be on tv, I think.

    Sometimes I will write something just to destroy it later, but I got it out of me and feel better once I’ve done that!

  3. Thanks, Jeremy, for the chance to check out a few pointers. Absurdly enough, even with several books out there, a person can still be asking, Will I be (go on being) a writer? Is there enough evidence? Is something else indicated? But then, these are probably good questions, too. Spot the Libran. Cheers and blessings for your generous, sharp and elegant astrological writing.

  4. Extremely interesting. I’m surprised by the absence of Virgos as well. Based on the friends I have, I still count Virgo as a great critical thinker and worthy of Mercury rulership. They just prefer the dry, technical, day to day stuff. Maybe they make great technical writers…writers of manuals, etc. LOL.

  5. I’m trying to remember if I asked you that.
    I don’t think I did because I know that writing for profit takes more discipline than I have. I know my weaknesses πŸ™‚

    Maybe the question could be worded differently, like “Do I have the talent or ability to make a living as a writer?” or “Tell me what I want to hear and I will hold you responsible for my success or failure.”

  6. Synthia, I agree, where is the Virgo? In the last source I read, Leo Tolstoy had been turned into a Leo rather than a Virgo. That hurt, because as far as I knew/know, we shared a birthday.

    Jeremy’s writing and thinking are beautiful and admirable. Tonight I discover as well that the comments on his blog sparkle brightly.

  7. Great article! I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. I think about being a writer a lot, but I am not interested in being a ‘Great American Novelist’. I’d be happy writing short stories or even writing about astrology :D!

    I have a Gem MC, Mercury square Saturn 38’applying, Mars quintile Mercury, and Uranus and my North Node in the 3rd, with the ruler of the 3rd (Pluto) closely square (6′ applying) Mars (ruler of my Sun, Mercury and Venus).

    Not that you needed all that info!

  8. Hello! I have a general question: “Much more startlingly common, however, was the combination of Mercury with Mars in the halfsum,”

    I’m still learning about astrology and know nothing about halfsums, and I was a little confused about the wording of this sentence. I tried looking it up myself but I’m still not sure what it means. You need two planets for a halfsum, right? And everyone would have a midpoint between two planets somewhere in their chart. So what is it about the half-sum that makes it so special in a writer’s chart? If you could explain this a bit further I’d be a very grateful newbie πŸ™‚

    Secondly, I loved the sarcasm of your first few paragraphs. Brought me back down to earth, which is generally where I prefer to reside :P. I’m always the person who, when asked to finish the sentence “You know you’re a writer when…” invariably responds with “you actually sit down and write instead of just talking about what it’s like to be a writer.” Yet I still get caught up in the astrology of it all. At the end of the day it’s good to be reminded that the stars can say one thing or another, but you’re the person who is actually living your life.

    Thanks again for a fantastic, thought-provoking post.

    1. I thnik Steph, that my meaning at the time was that any planet in combination with the Mercury/Mars halfsum would suffice. The logic being that Mars energises the communicative faculty of Mercury. These two points involved are the much needed motivation to actually do the work of writing.

      Plus, it’s arguable that this point alone might give insight. For example, HP Lovecraft had asteroid 2796 Kron exactly at the halfsum of Me/Ma at 0 Scorpio. Kron is highest expertise, rarefied position. Scott Fitzgerald (whom we covered in a recent study) had Me/Ma=SN, proving he brought the gift with him from a past life, also conjunct asteroid 3162 Nostalgia, which seems apt for his work and style. Thomas Hardy had Mercury conjunct Mars, thus forming its own halfsum. Both Hardy and Dumas had Me/Ma=Hephaistos, suggesting that they somehow forged their works. Hemingway had the Me/Ma midpoint within half a degree of the Ascendant. Fascinating don’t you think?

      1. Ah, I see! Thank you very much for explaining. That is, indeed, incredibly interesting!

        Thus comes the question, is there some kind of reverse search engine that you can enter a degree into and find out if anything was on that point at a certain moment?

      2. I am going to say that nay decent astrology software that allows you to look at various points (asteroids, fixed stars, hypotheticals etc) will give one access to that sort of information. but it is still somewhat laborious.

        As ever, the only genuine recourse is to learn the methods or to consult a decent astrologer with this in mind. There are not many shortcuts. Having said that, resources are evolving all the time, so it may happen one of these days.

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