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What Made You Want To Become A Writer? : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

What Made You Want To Become A Writer?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
alexandralamb97
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What Made You Want To Become A Writer?

Postby alexandralamb97 » Sat Apr 04, 2015 1:25 pm

I recently wrote an article as part of the #SuperVoices campaign- a campaign which aims to inspire individuals to share their stories about how their disabilities and disadvantages helped them discover their "Superpower" or their greatest talents- about how I discovered my talents as a writer because of social awkwardness as a child, and an apparent lack of any concrete talents. What made you want to become a writer, and what made you realize you were a skilled writer?

Last edited by alexandralamb97 on Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:00 am, edited 1 time in total.

James A. Ritchie
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Re: What Made You Want To Become A Writer?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Sat Apr 04, 2015 9:33 pm

Money. I read an article wherein Robert Heinlein said he wrote his first short story in an effort to pay an overdue bill. I was a high school dropout with a dead end, minimum wage job, so I had several overdue bills. I figured what one man could do, I could at least try.

I read a grammar book, then wrote a story in a couple of days, sent it to a top magazine, and they bought it, paying a bit more than my nine to five job paid in a month. So money made me try it, and selling that story showed me I had the talent, and the skill.

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mammamaia
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Re: What Made You Want To Become A Writer?

Postby mammamaia » Sun Apr 05, 2015 10:58 am

What made you want to become a writer

...no single thing/event... simply was always better at writing than most, was the best in my class from elementary through high school, and it came easily to me... didn't have to work at it, the words put themselves together almost automatically...
...so, i was 'drafted' to be my high school newspaper's editor, columnist, crossword puzzle creator and won an essay award, to boot...

...as an adult, i wrote fun poems for my 7 kids and only a few 'serious' ones, but didn't set out to be a professional writer till i was contemplating a divorce at the ripe old age of 42 and when pondering how i could make a living, wondered if i could 'be a writer'...

...so i took myself off to a cottage on the old beach at puerto vallarta for a couple of weeks, to see if i could write something publishable... and the first night there, a novel based on that magical little 'casa eva' took its first breath, seemingly writing itself... at that moment, i knew i had to 'be a writer' and, in fact, was meant to be one all along... writing has been like breathing, ever since... something i absolutely cannot not do...

and what made you realize you were a skilled writer?

...98's and 100's, A-'s to A+'s from teachers from 4th grade on, who were impressed by what i had tossed off at the last dying second for assigned essays reports, term papers and such, while all the other kids in the class had to agonize over theirs for days...
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Re: What Made You Want To Become A Writer?

Postby pls » Sun Apr 05, 2015 2:48 pm

I wrote an awful little "then I woke up" short story in second grade that proved that I could at least string events together to form a plot. I think I knew then that I'd eventually be a writer, and like maia, quite a few of my writing assignments in school proved that I could. (Like the one I wrote on "How to Sleep in Class" that I recycled several times.) In the '70's I worked for various newspapers and free-lanced non-fiction articles here and there. Then I went back to teaching. However, anyone who is a teacher knows that trying to write during the school year just isn't going to happen for someone who spends around 60-70 hours a week on school activities, and it wasn't until I was split-assigned to two schools and had about an hour-and-a-half in the middle of the day to use that I started my first novel, which took several years to complete. During my last year of teaching, actually managing a second-chance school where I had about 3/4 of the day left over after my duties, I wrote two more novels, and since I've retired from teaching and added more to my repertoire, I've actually completed (but not necessarily revived) twelve novels and have another half-completed in the can.
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Jowen
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Re: What Made You Want To Become A Writer?

Postby Jowen » Sun Apr 05, 2015 9:07 pm

Millennium year, age 65 and newly retired, I suddenly had some time to think about what I wanted to do, instead of what I needed to do to survive. One day, in the midst of some mundane task, I was hit with an idea for a children's story. I sat down and wrote the story in about ten minutes. Strangely, the following day, an ad for the Institute of Children's Literature fell out of a magazine I was reading. That was it. I decided I wanted to learn to write for children, sent in the aptitude test, was accepted and signed up for a writing for children and teenagers course. I didn’t even have a typewriter or computer at the time, but quickly bought the latter. The cost, which I recovered within the first year of submitting my work to magazines for publication, was my retirement gift to myself.

A fabulous, info-slurping learning curve, I absolutely LOVED everything about writing, publishing and the computer. Most of my first children’s stories and articles were accepted, but the competition for children’s writers is fierce, with long wait times to publication, even after acceptance. In 2007, I switched to writing profiles and travel articles for a senior magazine.

Edit.

-- and what made you realize you were a skilled writer?

Of necessity, although I loved school, I was required to leave at age fifteen to earn a living. It never occurred to me, being very aware of my lack of education, that I could be a writer. You can imagine my surprise and the boost to my self-esteem when, some thirty years later, I signed up for a college English Communication course, competing with much younger students, some with 60+ university credits, and got the top A+ class mark. Even then, it was another twenty years before I could seriously think about and discover my joy in writing. :D
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Re: What Made You Want To Become A Writer?

Postby MookyMcD » Wed Apr 08, 2015 6:09 pm

As I've written more and studied writing more the answer to this question has evolved. I started because I found it enjoyable and wrote, then trunked, a novel. During the process of writing it, I found it surprisingly challenging, and enjoyed that challenge. I fell in love with a writer when I was rewriting my second--a far better and more knowledgeable writer than I, too--and that dynamic changed things, with me being pushed at a higher level than I knew existed back when I thought it was challenging. I keep learning more things about myself through the process, and that becomes a motivation in itself. For me, it was anything but a fixed point with a concrete answer. I'm becoming a writer and think I'll always be in the process of "becoming a writer" and the number of things motivating me to do that keeps growing.

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Re: What Made You Want To Become A Writer?

Postby updog » Wed Apr 08, 2015 9:48 pm

C.S. Lewis, Dr. Seuss, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and others like them are what made me want to be a writer. Their worlds were magical and I wanted to take other young readers on adventures like that with my own stories someday.

I have serious doubts about my ability to write, but editors have always been good to me, and their generous feedback has boosted my confidence a lot in the last few years.
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Re: What Made You Want To Become A Writer?

Postby TerryRodgers » Thu Apr 09, 2015 8:25 am

For me, I like torture and sending query letters to strangers so that they can rip my writing apart was the next step in my evolution. :D

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Re: What Made You Want To Become A Writer?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Thu Apr 09, 2015 12:05 pm

As bad as it sounds to some, I have no doubt that I would not have become a writer had that first story not sold. Well, the first three stories, really, since I had two and three in teh mail before number one was accepted. I rally did start writing purely for the money, and had no money come my way, I would have looked for something else to do. I didn't just want money, I needed it.

There's a whole class of wonderful writers out there who wrote for years before making a dime from writing. Others have write for a decade or two, or three, and still haven't sold anything, but they keep writing, keep submitting, keep hoping.

There's nothing at all wrong with taking up writing purely for the money, and I've known a fair number of successful writers who did just this. Samuel Johnson said, "No man but a blockhead ever wrote, except for money." And as I said, had I not made money right form teh start, I would have looked for some other way of earning what I needed, and dropped writing without a second thought or a single regret.

But there are times when I almost envy those who struggle for years before finding any success. I know several writes who worked for more than ten years, who really write almost daily, before selling anything. I also know several who have been writing for more than thirty years, and still haven't sold anything. They written novel after novel after novel after novel after novel, and still have had any success at all. I don't even understand that kind of dedication, and I'm not sure it's at all wise, but I do wish I could know what it's like.

Not that my way was wise, either. It isn't at all smart to expect to sell the first thing you write. Just about anything worthy doing takes at least a few years to learn. It's like going to college. One day there gets you nowhere. Four years there gets you a degree. My excuse is that being a writer was not in my plans. I never wanted to be a writer, never dreamed about it. I fell into writing because of chance, and it worked out.

Which makes me wonder what it's like to want to be a writer so much that you dedicate a decade, or three decades, to it without any success? Three years, four years, even five years, I can understand. It's reasonable to expect it to take that long to reach a professional level at anything. Thirty years I don't understand. Even ten years is, I have no doubt, beyond what I would ever do without some kind of reasonable success. I'd be stretching it at five years.

My personality is the type that says, "Okay, that didn't work out. What can I try next?"

I can think of no valid reason why it feels like I'm missing out on something because of this. But it often does feel this way.

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Re: What Made You Want To Become A Writer?

Postby pls » Thu Apr 09, 2015 1:05 pm

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