Let me immediately start this off by saying that there’s no straightforward path for becoming a writer (arguably, if you’re already putting pen to paper, then you’re a writer. Plain and simple.). I’ve found that most of us have similar origin stories — we coveted books as children, day-dreamed and fantasized about new worlds or scenarios, wrote short stories in crayon, or perhaps used our imaginations to act out stories for our beanie babies (the Princess Diana Bear always ended up with the Angel Bear).
And while all of that was true for me, my childhood start was a smidge darker.
A bit of a dark start
Whether it was a product of my vivid imagination or something else, I suffered from night terrors at an early age. There’s no need to go into the graphic details of what I experienced, but I found that my outlet was writing.
Writing about my experiences, even from an early age, proved to be therapeutic for me.
And as I grew older, I learned to embrace the darker dreams and nightmares, and eventually the amount of terrors I had dwindled to only the occasional scare. In fact, I became so enamored with the vivid details in my dreams, that I looked forward to sleeping and discovering new worlds. And thus, my love for fantasy and all things other-worldly was born.
Education and writerly goodness
I still remember being the only person in my sophomore English class who raised their hand when my teacher asked, “Who really wants to get a degree in English?” I think she was trying to make a point, showing she understands English literature is necessary but perhaps not everyone’s favorite, and I totally wrecked her case. Probably why she gave me my only “B” in an English class ever. No, I’m not a Ravenclaw or anything. Of course I still don’t hold it against her. *cough*
Anyway, I ended up getting my degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. I loved every minute of college, and sometimes wish I could go back. I started writing in high school and continued on through college, but my writing career didn’t take off until I found Twitter.
Becoming a writer and finding Twitter
Yup, Twitter. It was one of those social platforms I didn’t understand and shied away from, and if I could go back and give myself ONE piece of advice, it would be to get on Twitter sooner.
Twitter is where our community lives. I’ve learned more about my craft and the publishing process as a whole than I ever could have without it.
Beyond that? Twitter lead me to contests. And contests played a huge part in becoming a writer (for me).
My first official contest was Pitch Wars—but I didn’t get in right away. In fact, I tried to get in with a manuscript that, looking back, was totally “not ready” in 2015. Then 2016 rolled around, and the lovely and talented Layla Reyne chose to mentor my story. And while that story wasn’t the one that landed me an agent, the real “win” of that contest was learning all I could from her.
I then applied those learnings to my writing as a whole and crafted a new story, one that grabbed the attention of Cate Hart.
Which brings us full circle to now, where I have a manuscript I love, a bunch of plot bunnies in the pipeline, and new relationships (like my awesome CP, Tricia Lynne) and a community I couldn’t bear to live without.
Stay strong, writers
So no, there’s no surefire method or path for becoming a writer—and like I said earlier, if you’re already writing, then own it! Embrace the ups and downs that come with this crazy career we’ve chosen. Lean on your community. Ask questions. Learn all you can. Allow yourself to take breaks without judgement (I certainly have), and then keep writing.