On being a writer – a personal view

How do you call yourself a writer? And when? Are you a writer just because you say you are? Do you have to be published first?

As a person starting out in what some call ‘the writing life’ it’s hard to take the scary step into claiming the epithet ‘writer’.

This is not any sort of advice column. I am not in a position to give advice, this is new to me too.

What this is is a collection of thoughts I have on what it is to be a writer, whatever title you may give yourself. Writer, scribbler, scrivener, chronicler, and on and on. These are entirely my personal feelings.

You may agree or disagree, it’s up to you, share if you feel inclined. Maybe we share some common ground.

– Ideas come at the oddest times, sometimes easily, in a flood or a trickle. I have to note them down to use later or not. But if I don’t I will forget them!

– It’s hard to be ‘authentic’, to write as you like without trying to be someone you’re not, a clone of someone you admire. Most people start out being derivative, it’s how you learn. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, unless you’re really trying to copy and continue that way in the long term.

– It’s scary to write how you want to. There’s often the fear that readers may think you’re writing from experience, or that a character is really you. For me, characters are an amalgam of people I’ve met, closely or peripherally, friends, enemies, aspects of characters from films, all sorts. Overall though, they are not copies of real people. Where’s the fun in that?

– I wrote a blog under a pseudonym for a while. The pseudonym was that of a Japanese-Australian woman of indeterminate sexuality and, in my mind, late twenties. Why write as a woman? Why not just write as myself? Go here where I write about that, if you’d like.

For me, I needed to claim my writing as my own whatever others might think of me. Having mused on it I believe that a big part of choosing to write as a woman was that I felt people might not accept my writing as a man, the sort of writing I did there anyway. Also I guess I worried that people who knew me might question my own sexuality, from the subject matter of the stories I wrote there.

Do you know what? In the end I decided that it doesn’t matter what others might think of me, the writing speaks for itself and me, as the writer, should be invisible to the stories.

– I don’t think you have any control over how people will receive a story, long or short.

– If you try to write to make everyone happy nobody will be, especially yourself.

– If people judge you on the fiction you write, so be it.

– Finding your ‘voice’ is hard particularly if you write in various genres. It comes with time I suppose.

– Can you bring your own life into your work? Of course you can. You bring whatever makes your story, your story. If it serves your narrative, use it.

– This is getting long!

– I reckon to write in a way that really satisfies you, you can’t be afraid. If you have to take a risk, a chance, to write something that makes you sit back and think, “did I write that?” and mean it in a tiny-bit smug way, you have to do it.

– Whatever you do somebody’s going to find fault in it, even if it’s genius. If you believe in it and it feels right to you, screw ’em, it’s your precious expression. Enjoy the beauty of your independent spirit.

– A big thing I’m trying real hard to fight is separating process from outcome. You know the sort of thing, you start something and think if it’s good I might get published, then all the publicity, how do I find an agent?, how do I find a publisher?, etc, etc. As Ray Bradbury said, “Do what you love, love what you do.”

Write without expectations or pressure. Write because you love it. If it becomes something bigger, good. If not, you’ve had the best time. And it never has to end. What could be better than that?

That’s more than I expected to write and it probably needs a ton of editing but this section of the site is my thoughts so let chaos reign!

Thanks for making it this far,


Thanks to hisks‘ for the use of their image – ‘Fastest writer on the world’