I think it started early on, before spelling words correctly was something I was concerned about. I caught the writing bug. We had this assignment in school where we had to write and illustrate a book. I wrote about my cat running away (we found her a few days later.) I still have the book because it had a profound effect on me. I’m still writing to this day.

Personal narratives are the best place to start

Being a writer requires so much practice, so before you sit down to write the next Great American Novel, consider keeping a journal. For me, it started with spiral notebooks and brightly colored pens where I'd just talk about my day. I kept a special journal in the summers when I started going to sleep away camp as well. As I grew into a teenager, with more complex thoughts and more feelings than I knew what to do with, my journal became a place to describe emotions and think through heavier situations. Without that outlet to share my thoughts and express myself completely, I might not have made it to adulthood in one piece.

Today, I don’t write about myself so much, but rather keep separate journals/scrapbooks for each of my kids. I write in them when memorable moments strike and each year around their birthdays. I also tape in ticket stubs and other special items to immortalize our time as a family. I hope that one day they’ll be interested enough to read through them. I might be waiting a while.

Poetry for when you’re overwhelmed

Poetry isn’t really my thing. I like to read modern stuff, struggled my way through the Romantic Poets, and currently copyedit a poetry magazine. I have been published twice though in this area probably because the few pieces I’ve written are totally raw with emotion. I don’t think one sits down intending to write poetry, but rather it pours out of you when your feelings overflow. My two best pieces were about surviving thyroid cancer and a prose piece laden with teenage anger about being insignificant. These days, poetry doesn’t really call to me.

The struggle with fiction writing

Most writers do hope to one day get a book published. At this point in my life, I’d settle for finishing a novel-sized story. On average, a novel is around 64,000 words. A story isn’t categorized as a novel until you’ve hit 40,000 words. That’s a lot of words let me tell you. I’m working on it, but writing something that makes sense all the way through and stays interesting is a lofty goal for any writer. Having more time to attempt this these days, I completely understand why it’s near impossible to make a career as a fiction writer.

That being said, it’s so much fun to tell someone else’s story when that someone is entirely made up. You can go in whatever direction you want, and the freedom of taking characters on a journey of your making is exhilarating. It’s really why I love to write. It’s why I work to write as much as I can, so I can get better, so I can tell a good story.

You have to practice writing fiction and you need to have people you trust to give you feedback. You’re going to love your own stories, you’re going to be biased. Find people you trust who will tell you the truth and let them help you through the process.

Professional writing

It’s very exciting to be at a point in my professional career where I’m able to put writing at the forefront. As a freelance content creator, I now work with a variety of clients to write professional emails, catalogs, blogs, and articles, while also having time to work on my own projects. Getting to write in different styles keeps me sharp. And, truthfully, the variety keeps me interested in my work. I have a piece of fiction in development, but I know I couldn’t look at it all the time. Having freelance work to do as well keeps me engaged all around since every day I get to write something different.

I’m not ashamed to say that I am in love with the written word. Whether I’m creating the content myself or getting inspired by reading the works of others, I feel most at home engulfed in writing.