How did you fall in love with writing?

In this episode I present you with a simple question in the name of sharing our writing experiences: How did you fall in love with writing?
I talk about how I came to love the writing process (or what follows, actually), but I’d be very interested to know what got your juices flowing for the first time. We’ve all had such different beginnings.

So with that, I ask you to think back and tell us how you came to be a writer. What was it that first made you pick up the pen and paper? Did it come natural or have you had to work on it?

As ever, use the comments section below to share your thoughts and let’s have a good old chit-chat!

Watch this episode on Vimeo

  1. I fell in love with writing when I got an A++ in an English assignment.I’d decided to go ‘off-topic’ from the required homework task and just written about something that made me laugh. It was an old man, waking up in a B&B, miles and years from where he’d gone to sleep.
    After five pages (the word limit had been two) I was still engrossed with the story that was unfolding before me.
    I handed it in, with a real sense of freedom about it. Not caring about the result.
    Mr. Howard, my English teacher, said it was the best thing he’d read in years. Showed real talent.
    Part of me is still trying to re-create that feeling today. And tomorrow. And the day after.

    1. Acutally, thinking about it, I had a similar experience. The first time anyone told me I was a decnt writer was when I went off piste at school. We had to write a modern version of Romeo and Juliet. I wrote a story about a boy who loved his dog. I found it a couple of years ago. It was pretty weird!

  2. Hi Iain, interesting podcast as always, thanks! My reasons for falling in love with writing: at the risk of boring you, I’ll rattle through several episodes in my life to answer that question:
    When I was five, we were given a piece of paper by the primary school teacher to write out a story. After I had filled this first page, I went up to the teacher and asked for another piece of paper, and I wrote on. This happened three or four more times. Each time, when I had asked for another sheet, the teacher always replied, “Another piece of paper?” with a grin on her face. This was so encouraging to me! I knew I wanted to write and I knew that a writer fills pages. The only trouble was that I didn’t know what to write, to a large extent: the further on I wrote, the larger my writing became until the letters were half and inch high or more. I’ve a vague recollection that the story concerned two friends who both turned into worms at the end and spiralled into the ground.

    I wrote a novel at the age of thirteen, in longhand, about 130 pages (a novella then, I suppose). It was a Sci-Fi story called The Segra. I’ve still got it after **mumble mumble** years. I was inspired by the great Sci-Fi authors that I read at the time, like Isaac Asimov and Robert Heinlein.

    I wrote the first draft of my first novel back in 1975 while at Art College, my second in 1985. Despite having fallen in love with writing, not only was there this 10 year gap between novels, I gave up creative writing after 1985 for almost 20 years (for certain reasons). What a waste; I still kick myself even now. Enough to say I’ve been writing in earnest again for the last 4 or 5 years. Working on my third novel, a fourth in the wings that’s been started, with at least three other rock-solid ideas/plots after that. No one’s going to stop me now!

    🙂

    1. That’s interesting. It sounds like you’ve had a bit of an on-off relationship with writing, certainly in terms of actively persuing it. I think that’s probably quite typical. Life and circumstance can get in the way, sometimes for years at a time. Fantastic that you’re now fully in the swing of thing again though!
      And thanks for the kind words!

  3. I think it was simply the notion of preserving a story – whether it was a story from my family, the world and folks around me, or a made-up world with made-up folks. I wrote my first stories and articles to lend a permanence to an idea – an idea taking up residence in my brain, brain space that once emptied onto the paper, could then fill again.

  4. For me, it happened when I was learning to read. I decided that I wanted to create stories that other kids would read. And so I started writing stories. As I got older and read books that really touched me, I realized it was more than just writing things others would read, but rather I wanted to write things that would touch people’s lives, maybe even change their lives. And so I continued writing.

    1. See, now although I don’t remember wanting to be a writer when I was young, I must have been hugely influenced by how much I read. Which was a heck of a lot! I loved reading (especially Dahl), and I’m sure the notion of storytelling must have been seeping into my brainbox in one way or another.
      As for touching people’s lives. Yep – I think I’m with you there.

  5. There are two types of writing for me. One works as a therapy. I write about my life, my feelings and things that happen to me. A journal. It helps me immensely to have some clarity about my life. I also like to go back and read how I felt at a certain time.
    Another type is the story-telling… I love this one because I always start with an idea in my head and I end up with a different one on paper. I have lots of fun with it.

    1. I’ve never kept a journal of any kind, which is probably a bit odd, really. I know that it’s a route into other forms of writing for a lot of people, and it must be fascinating to be able to go back and recollect where you were at any point in your life. I wonder if Twitter, Facebook et al will eventually fulfill that role. I hope not.

    2. When i was younger, I tend to keep things in myself. Then i began toscribble in a piece of paper and discovered i can write. I mean not
      literally, but in a sense I can make writing out of something. Recently,
      my passion for writing grew because of <a
      href="http://www.eframelessshowerdoors.com"frameless shower
      doors. I began writing as much as i can about shower doors.
      At first I thought there’s nothing much to write, but when i began to
      scribble then it is where the mind does its magic.

      1. When i was younger, I tend to keep things in myself. Then i began toscribble in a piece of paper and discovered i can write. I mean not
        literally, but in a sense I can make writing out of something. Recently,
        my passion for writing grew because of frameless shower
        doors. I began writing as much as i can about  shower doors.
        At first I thought there’s nothing much to write, but when i began to
        scribble then it is where the mind does its magic.

  6. I think writing starts by appreciating the written word and basically being able to relate with what others write. That’s how it began with me. I love reading and found that I could write just to express myself. Like many other writers, I find it therapeutic.

    1. I don’t really find writing that therapeutic. Don’t get me wrong, I love the feeling of finishing – of knowing I’ve completed a good piece of work. But the process itself always strikes me as work. I might be alone in that though. So many writers seem to love the nitty gritty!

  7. I actually started writing because of one of my best friends (who’s still my best friend up until today!). She encouraged me to write down my stories, especially the fan fiction I eventually came up with (since we were obsessed with boy bands and Harry Potter at the time). Plus, I was insipred by Harriet the Spy to write down everything.

    1. I started to take writing seriously – as in pursue it as a career – when I was surrounded by other writers, first on my undergraduate course and then on my MA Writing. Being in that environment, it’s hard not to feel inspired and encouraged. Sounds like you have a pretty ace pal there.

  8. I never fell in love with writing, it fell in love for me. I simply asked for an ability to heal through some creative venture, and the intent carried through with alot of elbow grease and concentration to create backyardmystic.com. It’s quite a journey, thanks for this question!

  9. As seems to be a common situation, the first time I felt like a writer was in high school when a teacher read something I wrote to the class and the students laughed in all the right places. All my adult life, I kept thinking I would write “someday,” but after I had a stroke I decided “someday” was now. I told all about my love affair with writing in a post written for a group writing project at http://lillieammann.com/2008/02/28/my-love-affair-with-writing/

  10. My first writing experience was-writing short sentences that were not from the book-my very own. My primary school teachers were impressed. They appreciated that I had a ‘creative tendency’. Most of my answers to the questions,paragraph writings and essays were my own. Moreover, my dad was a writer(though unpublished), he used to encourage and guide me…

  11. I was forced to take a “creative writing” class in private school in eighth grade after undergoing 9 neurosurgeries the summer before. I was bald when I returned to school and I had lost my short-term memory almost completely. I was terrified because I had no idea what I was doing there, and so picked up a pen and wrote a short story called “Amnesia,” which chroicled a sort of stream-of-consciousness state I dug up about the past summer, which was all I could remember of the past ten years of my life. My teacher told me to never stop writing, ever. So I didn’t.

  12. I fell in love with writing when I was a kid and my Dad and I would go camping. We used to stay up at night and read Sommerset Maugham stories to each other by firelight. It was then that I started dreaming of actually being a writer.

  13. Like many of the posts above I fell in love with writing as a teenager in high school. I wrote a few stories for a creative writing class I had, and they ended up being published for the school’s magazine. It was a great feeling.
    I have two inspirations, I think. The teacher I had in my creative writing course opened up my eyes to the power of words as descriptors. She would have me edit my work many times so that I could try and get the best words possible. It was tedious work, but I now see it as one of the most positive experiences I’ve had with writing and I know that she made me a better writer.

    My second inspiration for writing is actually from an interview with John Irving. He was asked what compelled him to quit what he was doing and start writing. He said something along the lines of, “Writing is what I wanted to do, so I finally decided to just go for it.” (Not exact quote by any means). There is something to be said for drive in a writer. Despite the difficulties, I love writing for writing’s sake and my drive to create will propel me forward.

    1. I have a similar experience I think. As I mention in the video clip, I fell in love when I realied I could affect people with words. It’s an incredible feeling of both power and responsibility. but I also remember a quote from my undergraduate tutor, the late, great Archie Markham. He said, ‘To write, you must do so with sentiment, not sentimentality.’
      It took me a while to fully understand what he meant, but by crikey he’s absolutely right.

  14. I have wanted to write for as long as I can remember, I guess my writing is me. I have always kept a journal and now also keep a blog. Books were my escape as a child and took me to fun and exciting places. Harriet the Spy was my hero and I too wrote everything down.I’ve studied Creative Writing at Uni and while life has got in the way over the years I am now 30,000 + words into my first novel. My goal is to have my novel complete before November this year which will be a significant birthday for me.
    Love reading the comments – what an awesome talking point.

    Cheers, Fi

  15. These stories are great.
    I have a love/hate relationship with writing and have done since I first learned to write. When I was really small (so small I can barely remember) the teacher told my parents that I was really talented at making up stories. My parents – being rather pushy parents – got particularly excited and talked so much about me being a writer that I seemed to suddenly lose the ability to think up stories! Writers block at 4 years old, can you imagine? I found a story I’d written when about 3 a few years ago about a boy with magic trainers, it’s pretty cool.

    So then in my early teens I thought, hmm, I’ll be a writer again and began a ‘novel’ based loosely on a story I’d seen on Neighbours. I used to write really short chapters and then read them to my friends who thought they were amazing. Then in one of those ridiculous career classes at school I got discouraged by a horrible teacher (whose husband is a scriptwriter for Emmerdale) who said I didn’t have the right ‘personality’ for it. I should have retorted with pointing out that she clearly had the wrong personality for teaching…

    Then there was a poetry phase (not good) and a lot of attempting to write a masterpiece in a first draft and getting frustrated that I’m not the next Nabokov of prose. After five years of working in offices something had to give (I find myself doodling at my desk in a desperate attempt to do something creative) and I went back to what I originally loved – making up stories.

    1. Thanks for the comment Sarah – it sounds like you had an absolutely AWFUL teacher. Wrong type personality? Bloomin’ heck. Incredible. However, I’m glad to hear that you’re back on track now and once you get on a roll (into the habit, I guess) the words and stories will start to flow. It’s a lovely feeling.

  16. I fell in love with writing when I was nine years old and watching a little programme called the Tweenies. I loved it, these grown-ups dancing about in foam suits pretending to be tiny kids having adventures… at some point though, when they began to get repeated, I thought: “I can do better at this.” I booted up the ancient IBM that my parents had given me to play on and I started writing these hundred-page long, roughly formatted scripts, which for some reason included an overenthusiastic host, and which featured me, my friends and the Tweenies having adventures I was interested in. I was home schooled in a little village and didn’t have a lot of friends (*hands out tissues…*), so my imagination kind of took over. Sadly, those docs haven’t survived the transition from steam-powered technology, I wish I had them still… 🙁
    The second part of the story is that my favourite books at the time were the Sleepover Club series. When I got kind of bored trying to think of new situations for my same characters, I thought I’d try my hand at writing a proper story – in my scripts, descriptive passages were getting longer and the dialogue shorter and shorter, so it was a natural leap. I started off with a hackneyed carbon copy of the Sleepover Club which, after hundreds of reworkings, is still in the pipeline today – those characters have grown up with me, and I’ve been writing books and stories ever since. I’ve absolutely loathed the process at times, but I’ve never been able to give it up.

    Interestingly, I now study Media, so I’m right back where I started from – writing scripts. My descriptive passages are still way too long, though… I agree with you Ian, that when someone looks even slightly moved by your work, it can totally renew your faith in writing, or even give you a new viewpoint! ^_^

  17. I fell in love with writing when I was nine years old and watching a little programme called the Tweenies. I loved it, these grown-ups dancing about in foam suits pretending to be tiny kids having adventures… at some point though, when they began to get repeated, I thought: “I can do better at this.” I booted up the ancient IBM that my parents had given me to play on and I started writing these hundred-page long, roughly formatted scripts, which for some reason included an overenthusiastic host, and which featured me, my friends and the Tweenies having adventures I was interested in. I was home schooled in a little village and didn’t have a lot of friends (*hands out tissues…*), so my imagination kind of took over. Sadly, those docs haven’t survived the transition from steam-powered technology, I wish I had them still… 🙁
    The second part of the story is that my favourite books at the time were the Sleepover Club series. When I got kind of bored trying to think of new situations for my same characters, I thought I’d try my hand at writing a proper story – in my scripts, descriptive passages were getting longer and the dialogue shorter and shorter, so it was a natural leap. I started off with a hackneyed carbon copy of the Sleepover Club which, after hundreds of reworkings, is still in the pipeline today – those characters have grown up with me, and I’ve been writing books and stories ever since. I’ve absolutely loathed the process at times, but I’ve never been able to give it up.

    Interestingly, I now study Media, so I’m right back where I started from – writing scripts. My descriptive passages are still way too long, though… I agree with you Ian, that when someone looks even slightly moved by your work, it can totally renew your faith in writing, or even give you a new viewpoint! ^_^

    1. Bethany, you have just made me feel, at just 30, extremely old! However, I too remember watching programmes as a child and being completely wrapped up in the story. I loved Mysterious Cities of Gold and The Raccoons. Each episode lasted half an hour and you really got a chance to get to know the characters. The stories were longer and more developed. Glad you’re still writing. Where are you studying media?

      1. The Raccoons! I loved that show too, Cedric was my favourite, I could never work out exactly what those pink creatures were meant to be though… cartoons really aren’t the same now :/ I’m in my final year at Yeovil College at the moment, and I’ve applied to Winchester Uni to study a joint Archaeology/Media degree… although I’m wavering whether to choose Archaeology and Creative Writing instead, the course covers graphic novels, which would be an interesting departure 😛 Have you ever tried your hand at a graphic novel?

  18. I fell in love with writing when I was nine years old and watching a little programme called the Tweenies. I loved it, these grown-ups dancing about in foam suits pretending to be tiny kids having adventures… at some point though, when they began to get repeated, I thought: “I can do better at this.” I booted up the ancient IBM that my parents had given me to play on and I started writing these hundred-page long, roughly formatted scripts, which for some reason included an overenthusiastic host, and which featured me, my friends and the Tweenies having adventures I was interested in. I was home schooled in a little village and didn’t have a lot of friends (*hands out tissues…*), so my imagination kind of took over. Sadly, those docs haven’t survived the transition from steam-powered technology, I wish I had them still… 🙁
    The second part of the story is that my favourite books at the time were the Sleepover Club series. When I got kind of bored trying to think of new situations for my same characters, I thought I’d try my hand at writing a proper story – in my scripts, descriptive passages were getting longer and the dialogue shorter and shorter, so it was a natural leap. I started off with a hackneyed carbon copy of the Sleepover Club which, after hundreds of reworkings, is still in the pipeline today – those characters have grown up with me, and I’ve been writing books and stories ever since. I’ve absolutely loathed the process at times, but I’ve never been able to give it up.

    Interestingly, I now study Media, so I’m right back where I started from – writing scripts. My descriptive passages are still way too long, though… I agree with you Ian, that when someone looks even slightly moved by your work, it can totally renew your faith in writing, or even give you a new viewpoint! ^_^

  19. Like at least a couple of other people here, I fell in love with writing as a result of my love of reading. From the moment I realised those little squiggles on paper actually meant something I’ve been almost addicted to reading – to the point where primary school teachers wouldn’t allow me read any more books!
    By the time I had finished primary school, however, I had been lucky enough to read just about the entire collection of Dahl. I enjoyed the stories, definitely, but it wasn’t until I picked up my first fantasy novel – David Eddings’ The Diamond Throne – at the age of 10 or 11 that I started to really enjoy writing.

    There was just something about being drawn into a world that was so alive with heroes, villains and monsters and it really inspired me. I thought, “What if I could create such a world, be its master? Would I be drawn just as much into the lives of these fantastical beings?” So I gave it a try. Surely enough, I was.

    But it wasn’t until a couple of years later that I started appreciating writing for the art form I believe it is. When I did, though, I couldn’t stop – I love the process of character creation, plot development, filling out that plot and bringing characters to life.

    Strangely enough, my literary tastes haven’t changed much in 14 years – I still read and write so much fantasy.

  20. For me, the wonder in writiing is the ability to create something. Something that moves people, makes them laugh, cry, and makes them happy.I love actually making a kind of mini world, making it whatever you want. It also makes me feel like a kind of God. That is cool.

  21. I have always had a big imagination. I guess you could say that I create so many ideas in my head and I need to put it down on paper. I need these characters to come alive on paper because words are so powerful to me.
    I have always been able to lose myself in books. I lose myself in my own stories.
    I never speak them out loud though. On paper they are so much more real but at the same time, only real to your own imagination and that’s what’s so amazing about writing.
    You create life and your readers can imagine the characters any way they like.

  22. It started from a young age. I always got extra excited when we had to do a writing task for school. I still do by the way. But my passion only really got out when teachers started commenting on how good these assignments always were. Once a teacher commented, “Have you ever thought about being a writer?” And that comment is one I will never forget. It was an enormous boost to my confidence. In the moment I read that comment, I knew what my dream was. I knew what direction I wanted my life to go. And having found this site, it only confirmed the feeling. I want to write because it gives me great joy and happiness.

    1. I have to say that I had a similar experience at school. It’s cliché, but without the support of a couple of awesome English teachers, I might now have pursued writing with the determination and patience that I have.
      Hooray for great teaching everywhere!

  23. I would say that my English teacher who was the same one throughout my secondary school and sixth form was very influential but I also think my active imagination is what inspires me to write the stories that I want to tell. I’ve been writing down stories on and off since a very early age but I’ve not tried to get anything published as yet.
    I think why I continue to love writing now is down to the simple fact that a lot of life involves things that you have to do and it’s great to have something that is just done because I want to do it.

    Currently trying to write a novel at the moment, about 30,000 words in.

  24. Hello! I’m new to this website and I have to say that, hands down, it’s one of the best I’ve seen.
    So, here’s my story about writing. First, let me tell you that I’m from Latin America. I fell in love with writing when I read a novel written by Arthur Conan Doyle. It was the first real, classic story that I’d read and it completely changed the way I felt about reading and writing. I twas 12 at the time. I immediately read more books written by the same author and got the desperate need to start producing that kind of material myself, because I felt so attracted to the idea of creation. A few weeks later, I started writing a long Sherlock Holmes novel. I never got very far because when I showed it to my grandfather, he simply told me, “This is very good, but why don’t you write about your own characters?”

    That was it for me. I was 13 and the idea of creating people of a sudden felt like the most incredible experience in the world. Since then, I couldn’t stop. I did not only write, but I also drew comics with my own characters, created short stories, and had so much fun while doing it.

    I ocassionally wrote fanfiction but to be honest, the love of it didn’t last long. I got bored, even if I got feedback -most of it good.

    Now, I’m 24 and I am working on several projects at the same time. They’re all novels and of course I keep focused on one of them as my main goal. I’ve been writing and rewriting that same story for 7 years now. I’ve had it in drawings, in comics, and then in words. Right now I am really close to finishing it but I’m experiencing writer’s block, which I guess is the fear of seeing my very first novel completed.

    I guess my characters are screaming at me and their energy is so strong that I can’t turn my back at them. I think they would slap me if I did, if you know what I mean.

    Thank you for creating this wonderful place to share all our thoughts. And thank you for sharing yours, they’re really helpful!

  25. I loved reading as a kid, especially Nancy Drew and other kid’s mystery stories. I wrote a screenplay for a summer drama class once and although it sucked, it planted a little seed. I had literature teacher in college who complimented my work, which has stayed with me, and even though I chose to get a finance degree and work in finance, clients would compliment how well-written my reports were. Fast forward to last year, when I was building a website about one of my hobbies and writing content for my site. Big surprise to me, writing the content was my favorite part! I had given thought in the past to writing, because I continue to be a voracious reader and think I could be a published writer every time I read something either very inspiring or very bad 😉  Character creation is something new to me, but I just developed my first character recently and was shocked when I had dashed off 1,700 words without even coming up for air.  Writing has become a reality for me after many, many years of toying with the idea….I’m excited and planning to work on my first novel this year. 
    Thanks for the great site – everyone else’s stories here are contagious!

  26. You have got to have the passion in doing it and the focus to do it. When you are bothered with anything in real life, you probably couldn’t write well like what you have in mind. When you have relationship problems or some other problems, you couldn’t express what you really have in mind because you are affected with some other things. You could love to write when you are in the mood and you really enjoy doing it so disregarding some problems on the way.

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How do you know what type of writer you are?

How do you know what type of writer you are?