I go to a lot of writer’s talks. Mostly because they inspire me and secretly because I’m hoping talent is contagious. At these talks I’ve noticed the thing that has me sliding to the edge of my seat is when the writer opens up about exactly how they became a writer. Had they known since birth? Did they write their first novel, aged 6 on butcher’s paper in red crayon? Were they struck by lightning and taken over by an unexplainable neurosis which caused them to put pen to paper? Every story grips me and I fantasise it’s my own – probably because my own isn’t very interesting. Sure I’ve always loved books but who didn’t? And yeah, I’ve always written stuff down but does that make me a writer? Maybe. Maybe not.
The faraway dream
I hated school. Not the actual learning part but more the political/socialising/children-and-some-adults-who-never-left-the-playground-are-horrible-part. And while I was lucky enough to have several amazing and inspirational teachers over the course of my schooling there was one, Mrs Walker, who told me she thought I could make writing more than just a hobby. She said she believed I would be one of the students who would really achieve something with my life. And while the dream of a writing career slipped beneath other discouraging remarks over the years, her words were always there, providing a little glimmer of hope that maybe one day I could do what I wanted.
How my real writing journey began
When I really think about it, my adult writing journey all began when my then boyfriend* signed us both up to a creative writing class – probably because he knew my social phobia would prevent me from ever attending something like that without a little push. I turned up, hiding behind my notebook and chewing the end of my pen. When we were asked to read out our writing exercises, my heart was beating so hard that when I opened my mouth, I was sure the pounding was all anyone could hear.
Fast forward to the next term. I was attending class on my own and I couldn’t keep my mouth shut having transformed into noisiest and – undoubtedly –most annoying student. While I still didn’t love sharing my work I did like finding out how I could make it better. I loved hearing everyone else’s pieces. But most of all I loved writing and with the encouragement of my teacher – the lovely Pamela Cook – I decided this was what I wanted to do with my life.
Making writing my profession
It took a while to figure out how exactly I was going to make writing my profession, but eventually I managed to get together enough copywriting work so I could quit my job and pursue it full time. It was the best decision I’ve ever made. I found a way I could write and still feed myself (not an easy feat considering how much I consume) as well as carving out more time to work on my novel – probably the worst thing ever written – but still.
So how can you become a writer?
Chances are you’re probably halfway there. The only real difference between people who write and ‘writers’ is that the latter actually acknowledge the title. So next time you’re filling out a form put down writer as your occupation – it’s the first step to making the dream come true!
*Then boyfriend, the real hero of this story eventually became now husband (and Business Slayer). I couldn’t very well let him get away now, could I.