The Truth of becoming a Writer

This blog is about writers but if you’re a different type of creative it applies to your world too. Pull up a chair. Grab a coffee. Enjoy.

Some good friends recently asked me to write a foreword for their novella which they’d just finished. You can grab yourself a copy over here, I would recommend it, but I won’t be reviewing, that would be very self-serving.

The foreword took some work, it was my first and so came with a big lump of uncertainty. What makes a good foreword? How do I even write one? Should I include my thoughts on the story? It’s themes? Characters? As it turns out, the heady mix of a deadline and caffeine resulted in a pretty good job. Well, I was happy and so were my friends.

Within the completed foreword is an idea which is, to me, the mantra of the writer. Or it should be.

Creation is an act of will

I’ve seen this idea elsewhere, it’s not an original thought. But it is, I think, fundamental to writing and the life we all lead.

The Life:

If you’re a writer, you know that you can spend all of your time reading writing advice, how-to guides and must-do lists. There is that much out there, you could drown in the words.

Much is made of the propensity of the writer to procrastinate, to be a “plotter” or a “pantser” or similar. We discuss and lament our “ways”, a wry smile of recognition for those habits we see in ourselves or our peers.

Beyond that we critique, comment and discuss our work and that of others. We form groups of like-minded friends and discuss all the above. Chat, gossip and joke. It’s pretty busy.

Sometimes, we write.

The Price:

We also struggle. Oh, it’s often a joke, or said to the world with an eye-roll. Sometimes it’s even called writers block.

I’ve seen many writers burn out, crash into depression or explode for all to see. The pressure of creating, real-life or a combination of both, gets too much. Then friends fall. Some we lose and will never hear their stories. Some take a break and come back changed. The lucky rise again and forge forward. Bloodied but unbowed.

Creation is an act of pure will and that ONLY comes from resolve and confidence. The writer must strive to move ever onward, to stumble, but not fall.

Often, it’s the unkind word, harsh review or self-doubt which decimates your confidence. Which strips that which we need most of all.

At some point we’ve all felt helpless, lost and incapable. The feeling of competence dies and, with it, resolve. Suddenly you can’t write any more. The story, planned or not, disappears. The characters seem flat, lifeless. Plus, it’s not like anyone would read this, right?

We falter. We stop.

It’s easier to “not” than to “fail”.

The Truth:

But if you don’t create then who will? Your story is yours alone. No-one else knows it, so no-one else will tell it. It will still be with you, just untold.

Whilst this may all sound very dramatic, and it is, what I want to say to you, is that you have a choice. You can do this. Others have before. More will after. But it’s your decision. You can spend your days reading all the advice you can find. Reading the words others have written before. Take courses. Discuss. Plan. Write. Blog.

But whatever you do, do it your way. Write what you need to. Say what you mean. In your time. In your style.

Be unapologetic.

Be bold.

It doesn’t matter what others say or think.

Make mistakes.


Write for you and be proud of what you do.

Have the courage of your convictions and find confidence therein.

Even be a little arrogant; yes, others have written before you, but they’ve never written YOUR stories. Those are yours alone.

So, choose to be a writer.

Make that decision.

After all, creation is an act of will, so set your mind to it and then deliver on the decision. Every day. In every word.

Just remember, the choice to be a writer is yours…

…and so are the victories that it brings.

Good luck.

9 Replies to “The Truth of becoming a Writer”

  1. An encouraging post Simon. I’m sure many writers, including myself, have felt like this at some point.

    1. As have I! Needed to get it out of my system 🙂 Thanks for the comment.

  2. “Be unapologetic. Be bold.”

    Love, LOVE that! Umm – any pointers…? 😉 No, this is a lovely post and a great reminder to just get on and write. Not everyone will like it, but the right readers will 🙂

    1. Well, thank you. I love that line too, I think I need to make a t-shirt…

      Pointers? That I am working on. Probably good biscuits, better tea and your favourite music when you’re feeling swamped. Then, sit before your prefered writing tool, close eyes, deep breath, open eyes, write. As you say, just do.

      No, not everyone will like it, but I think I wrote this as much for me as the world. This blog and another have been kicking around for a while and not publish as they felt too personal, but those are the best sorts, aren’t they?

      Thanks for the lovely comment and support, as ever. 🙂

  3. Ditto Simon. Creation is an act of will. I take note of what Elizabeth Gilbert says about writing:-
    Write it before somebody else writes it (because they will)
    Writing is a habit – make the habit, get the work done.
    And I also love Margaret Attwood’s approach to writing –
    ‘Write and keep writing. Write bad till you write better’.

    1. That’s a great quote and I agree entirely! Guess I best get on and write some more then, huh?

  4. Spot on Simon.
    I’ve just looked up the definition of formulaic. It is “produced in accordance with a mechanically followed rule or style.” That’s exactly what we shouldn’t be when we write. No need to comply or to conform to follow a standard or to meet perceived expectations. Just write write write exactly what you feel. To quote my favourite Sara Bareilles “Say what you wanna say, And let the words fall out, Honestly I wanna see you be brave”

    1. Absolutely, Fahim, only through exercising our creativity do we progress.

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