Getting past 'I'm not a writer'

Earlier this month we spent a fantastic weekend at the iconic Port Fairy Folk Festival (which, by the way, is much more than banjos and tin whistles). Once again I found myself in awe of the songwriter's ability. Never mind the music: how do these people come up with such clever lyrics? I could never do that.

Or could I?

I don't know if I've shared this before, but when I was at school (when telephones still had dials and were definitely not 'smart') writing was not my thing. I struggled with creative writing and writing analysis and never seemed to be able to find the right formula to keep my English teachers happy. In my last few years at school, English was the subject in which I achieved my lowest grades.

These days I'm a professional writer so I'm probably not meant to tell you that. I'm meant to tell you that I arrived in this world pen in hand, that from the age of two I was a storyteller, that I would write under the bedcovers until the early hours... You know: the typical writer's profile.

But for me this was not the case.

By the time I left school I was definitely one of those who told themselves: 'I am not a writer'. I turned my hand to applied science at university, at which I did very well. (Excuse the lack of humility but it's needed to make the point.) Part of my success was due to having the ability to write good essays, however I still didn't see myself as a writer. I just had a good knowledge of what I was writing about.

Over the ensuing years of my career I wrote lots of reports, as one does. At one point I wrote – and enjoyed writing – job advertisements for a recruitment consultancy. Then as a management consultant I wrote more reports, a regular newsletter and a couple of books.

But still I was not a writer in my own mind.

It wasn't really until, almost by chance, I got the opportunity to write a book for someone else that I finally understood that I could write – that writing actually comes to me reasonably easily and I'm not bad at it.

The point here is not to brag, but to encourage. So often I hear 'I am not a writer' and it really makes me wonder. Is the person not a writer, or were they just conditioned to that state of mind at school? Have they simply not given themselves permission to believe they can write?

Sure, not everyone can write. Not everyone wants to write. But I suspect a lot more could write if they put their mind to it.

I wonder if this might be you.

Just as I sometimes wonder whether I could write a song, if I gave myself permission to. Perhaps I'll try. One day.

As usual, if you have any questions or comments, please add a comment below or contact me.

Posted by