When and How Did You Start Writing?

Fountain Pens, Fountain Pen, Filler, Ink

What’s the first thing you remember writing?

The first time I wrote on my own – not for a school assignment – was after an argument with my sister (over something trivial, I’m sure). My mother was working rotating shifts in a factory. She was a day sleeper, so we had to keep quiet in the house. Unable to have a proper argument, I pulled out a notebook and wrote down my anger. Just dumped it all on paper.

I was eleven or twelve, my sister two years older.

As you’d imagine, the process was therapeutic. I later learned that behind every piece of writing there are emotions and feelings, and putting them down helps. We all have little stories inside us and very few get told. Since I couldn’t argue away my story, I retreated to the intimacy of writing, an emotional exercise that calmed the mind.

Years later, my sister read what I wrote. By then the notebook had become a journal, full of stories and musings. To this day, she claims her role as the muse that set me on the road to writing.

I kept my journal for occasional thoughts until high school; but with time I wrote less. As all writers know, it’s not easy writing deeply personal thoughts – heart break, loss, the daily grind of feelings. There is a fine line between therapy and dwelling on the tedium of life. But fiction is different. Fictionalizing the truth fed a creative need, allowing ideas freedom. I suppose that’s what escapism is about.

“Once you’ve escaped, the world is not the same as when you left it. You come back to it with skills, weapons, knowledge you didn’t have before. Then you are better equipped to deal with your current reality.” Neil Gaiman

Or as Shirley Jackson as said:

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality.”

I needed a form of fictionalized reality, which writing provided.

Eye, Iris, City, Skyscraper

Writing as Creative Outlet

Creative expression, in any form, starts early. I didn’t know the first thing about plotting out a storyline in those early days. It was just story dumping, no rhyme or reason, just internal expression. It was freeing, writing away unbothered.

The mechanics came later. Learning the craft brought organization, a better use of time and skill. More importantly, it brought the understanding that writing is not just about me. We need other writers and, of course, we need readers.

I’ve heard writing referred to as the lonesome of creative endeavors. It doesn’t have to be. By design, we need time alone in order to write. Whether in front of a computer, or staring out the window. Driving or lying poolside. We have ideas and look to put them into action. And for that we need peace. But we also need one another, a community of creatives, and those seeking to escape the tedium of daily grind – the readers.

We are stories, fictionalized or painfully factual. Stories waiting to be written and shared.

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photo credit: pixabay/adifferentperspective985, lars niessen

5 responses to “When and How Did You Start Writing?

  1. The first thing I wrote was a design for a newspaper. i was 4 or 5. I did not write much but I graphed out a newspaper and put some words I found in the dictionary as headlines. I wanted my father’s attention and thought this would work since as soon as he came home from work, he sat down and read the daily newspaper – would not do anything else until he read the news. Did not really work since I was just learning to read but I used the dictionary and newspaper to speed things along. I started writing news stories for my self and became editor of my secondary school and then college newspapers. Later, I wrote many news releases and speeches for animal rights issues. I also researched and wrote news and speeches of two different city council members. I later became editor for 17 years of a business journal and published three books and wrote a number or articles for that publication and others. Now. I blog a lot – smile.

    • How interesting, Ned, so young and so determined. I hope your father read what you wrote as soon as he came home. Quite the impressive writing/research career. There is an art to writing a good news story — maybe on decline today, or so all the noise on it would have us think. A uniquely objective set of skills. Thank you for sharing, and keep writing.

  2. Well, at 58 life had been a nightmare, my mom had just died with a lot of unpleasant dynamics. I have always supported children’s organizations and one speaker talked about helping children identify their strengths, so I asked him “what about us adults?” So I spent some time being coached as to MY Strengths, so he had me write them out – my first writing other than in school projects.

    I enjoyed what I was learning and my coach enjoyed my writing, so I started taking writing classes as I enjoy creativity. One thing lead to another as I joined writing groups online and locally. I had always loved Erma Bombeck’s writing, so I wanted to be like her. At that time my husband and I had a cat so I wrote about rescuing our cat when it was a kitten. I actually managed to get my story published with the magazine, I LOVE CATS. The other cat stories I published were with LaJoie magazine. I also have a blog, Gwynn’s Grit and Grin, but due to caregiving for my husband, my inspiration has evaporated and WordPress has changed and I’m not happy with the changes. So much for my writing.

    • Oh, Gwynn, I hope you come back to writing. Love that you started with a car story, and got published.
      Life gets in the way, I understand. It’s a constant battle for me, too, between work, family and so many other obligations. It’s nice to know that writing can be picked up again, when ready.
      Thank you for sharing your writing story.

  3. Hi Silvia – I had always written thank you letters and sent postcards … but nothing else. When I went to South Africa I did write letters home – which I asked my mother to keep – sadly she didn’t … c’est la vie. But I did write long round-robins, which I’ve always kept a copy … and when my Ma became terminally ill – I wrote out to friends and family to encourage them to write letters/cards to her … and a couple of people said how much they enjoyed these … as they were always positive – I was lucky with my Ma’s illness … I could keep things positive. Hence my blog’s name … and my Ma enjoyed the connectivity with family and friends … and I had plenty to talk about as I was always thinking about blog posts – she’d send me home to google information I couldn’t give her – and wait with baited breath when I saw her the next day!! So I go on … I’m glad you’ve found your outlet and can write stories … cheers Hilary

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