Why I Want to Be a Writer

I have wanted to be a writer ever since I can remember.

I wrote a picture book at age 5 about a train taking passengers to the station. I dictated it to my father and forced him to write it because his handwriting was better than mine, and then we drew the pictures.

When I was six our class had to write a story. The final draft had to have a picture up top and six wide lines underneath. Nobody in the class wrote more than 5 pages. I wrote 20.

But I’m an adult now. I have responsibilities and uni work and three jobs while trying to catch up with friends and see my family often enough they don’t think I’m dead. It’s getting harder to remember why I want to be a writer.

Writing takes time and dedication and perseverance.

I’m afraid I only think I want to write because I’ve always told myself that I want it. Or that I haven’t given it up because I haven’t quite fathomed that it’s a thing I can give up.

Another half of me scoffs at those doubts. It scolds that I only think like this because pushing through and persevering is going to be hard as shit.

I am a ritual procrastinator – unreliable at sticking to schedules and terrified of commitment. I’m late, flaky, stressed, underdeveloped. All I want to do most days is paste tiny Band-Aids of relaxing and video games over the gaping chasm of my mental health.

And yet wanting to be a writer niggles at me.

It sits there, patiently. When I’m feeling discontented with life; when I feel I should be doing something; when I haven’t made time for writing in months – it grows.

And that’s the thing that really gets me about wanting to be a writer. It’s the disappointment that I feel when I can’t remember the word I want in conversation. It’s the sadness when I think “that’s a great story” and I realise I haven’t had that thought in a while. It’s the frustration I feel when I haven’t been paying enough attention to the world.

It’s the feeling that I should be writing.

Being a writer is something I return to. I return to it because something in me rankles when I haven’t written in a while. Because going to writing conventions where people argue story construction makes me swoon. Because listening to professional writers talk about their daily routines makes me giddy.

The image of being a writer – of waking up and heading straight to my desk to do my first morning session – is glorious. Or heading to my local cafe with a notebook to outline. Or heading to a park to edit in the shade.

Despite ‘proper adulthood’ encroaching, that’s what makes me happy for the future.

Picture credit: Danielle MacInnes