I should have known I was going to be a writer by the way I invented a desk of stacked storage containers and covered its surface with pages of scribbles because my fingers hadn’t yet learned to form words.
I should have known I was going to be a storyteller by the way my dollhouse characters had histories and futures that were ever so clear in my mind.
I should have known. The signs were all there. But if you had asked me as a child what I was going to be when I grew up, I would have told you I’d be a mother and a missionary, but never would I talk about those stories that were engrained in my heart. They were as much a part of me as the wave in my hair and the gold fleck in my eye. Maybe that’s why I never noticed their significance. Because they had been there all along. All my life, my imagination ran wild with story after story after story.
I wrote my first book when I was perhaps nine years old. It was a horrible collection of short stories that my family still laughs about to this day. I’ve often wished I could burn it, but since I haven’t yet discovered how to erase certain memories from the minds of my family members, I elected to let the horrid creation live. Besides, it’s a reminder that before I even realized I was called to write, my fingers were doing what came naturally to me—filling pages with words.
That’s where all writers must begin. With words—your own words. If you want to be a writer, stop reading all the advice. Stop worrying that you’re not going about it the proper way. There is no proper way. Just do whatever works best for you.
Don’t worry about the critics, don’t obsess over “making it” in the writing world, and know that your validation as a writer does not come in publication. Seeing the finished product is a beautiful thing, but it is not the only thing. I was a writer long before I held Beyond Waiting in my hands.
I’d have given up long ago if I chose to believe the people who told me I’ll never make it in the “real” world. Writing would lose its worth if I allowed myself to be convinced that stories aren’t necessary and I should write the truth as cold, hard facts—if I listened to those people who tell me to dream in black and white when my heart is pounding with deep purples and vibrant yellows.
Let me tell you, if you don’t believe that stories tell truths, you haven’t heard Brodi Ashton’s definition of the word “redemption.” You haven’t found hope in Laini Taylor’s hands. And you have yet to let Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution take place inside of you.
And that’s the key to succeeding in writing: to believe in what you do. If your heart is fully invested in the words you’re spilling onto the page, no one can take that from you. The way to press on through the hard days is to know that you know that you know that you are called to this. You were made for this. And the words that are in your heart were meant for being shared, even if only a few ever read them.