Call yourself a writer?

The secret of my success: writing for the love of writing.

I’ve been writing scripts and stories since I was 13. Well, that’s not strictly true; to say that would make it sound like I’ve churned out pages and pages of storylines and characters every week for the past 17 years, and that simply isn’t true. For one thing, it could have been even longer.

writing advice

A writer’s desk, this afternoon. Not pictured: legible handwriting.

But I certainly do remember writing an episode of a sitcom when I was at high school about two young men going on holiday and trying to meet women – the only problem was I’d never been on holiday anywhere except Bridlington for my entire life up to that point, and so had to resort to what I imagined young men would get up to on holiday in Brid.

Fortunately from my memories it was pretty much the same thing I’d been doing up until that point anyway – playing arcade games and staring at girls, the only key differences among the menfolk being the presence of booze and the absence of parents.

Much as I’d love to say those scripts were either amazing or completely rubbish, I don’t remember much more than a couple of cheeky references to bands I liked at the time (like the song on the radio being performed by The Ugly North – see what I did there?) I do clearly remember though how much I loved writing them from that young age.

I never really thought of myself as a writer until recently because I’ve never got any distinctive level of recognition from it. I always thought that, to be a writer, you had to be published. However, that only makes you a published writer. A writer writes, and through the years I’ve certainly saved enough drafts, binned enough printouts and published enough blog posts both in a personal and professional capacity to be able to call myself a writer.

I do have something of a list of achievements in my career so far, but nothing makes me feel prouder or more accomplished than putting in a good shift. Not only did I manage to finish a novel some years ago, I even got up the nerve to submit it to a couple of agents. And while those responses weren’t ideal, at least I did it.

And whenever I look back on all my half-finished scripts and half-started novels saved on my computer, I always take heart that although I don’t yet have the discipline to finish something I’ve started – or for that matter, the time to develop that discipline (the finished novel came about during a prolonged period of unemployment so I certainly had the time, if not the discipline due to that damn Playstation 2) – I’m rarely lacking for ideas. The fact that I’ve managed to keep up with maintaining a blog for over two years now definitely counts for something too.

And as such, that’s really the only advice I can give. If you want to be a writer, you should start by writing. The rest will follow.

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