My Proudest Moments as A Writer So Far
Writers and creatives all have their own dreams and aspirations. It could be writing a best-selling novel, winning a prestigious award, or having your work performed on-stage.
As with any creative pursuit, it takes time, patience and the ability to deal with lots of rejections before you hit the big-time. Of course, there are very few writers who actually make it that far. So how do we measure our own success?
I’ve only been writing seriously for about two years, so it would be unrealistic to expect to become a best-selling novelist straight away. What I have done, though, is set myself small goals which will hopefully lead to bigger things in the future.
Although these accomplishments might seem tiny in the grand scheme of things, I am very proud of what I’ve achieved so far. Each of these moments marks a step where I’ve exceeded my own expectations – so, in my own mind, that’s a success I can be proud of.
Here are my proudest moments as a writer so far…
Joining A Writing Class
Initially, the whole prospect of sharing my work with anyone else was terrifying, as I’ve always had social anxiety issues since childhood. I remember feeling sick with dread when “talk day” at school came round, and all my report cards saying I need to participate more in group activities. To add to this, my overall confidence had reached an all-time low after years of not fitting in at work, suffering from anxiety attacks and having an ex-boyfriend who told me I was “shite at life.”
However, it had been years since I’d done any sort of creative writing, so I knew my skills could do with a bit of a polish. Signing up for a writing class was definitely a step I had to take to get started on my new career path.
I remember going along to the first meeting, and literally shaking with nerves as I walked in. I was too shy to read aloud, so I had to ask the group leader to read my piece. The reaction I got from the rest of the group was more than I could ever have imagined. Not only was everyone incredibly supportive, but they genuinely seemed wowed by my work. This was a huge confidence boost, and reaffirmed to me that writing was worth pursuing. Plus I made a few really good friends from the group, and we all keep in touch.
Bagging My First Freelance Client
During my teens and twenties I never really knew what I wanted to do with my life. I ended up doing 6 years at two different universities, where I studied everything from Astrophysics to Latin, before finally emerging with a History degree. Unfortunately I graduated just after the financial collapse, so it was impossible to find any sort of job, and after six months of unemployment I was happy to just accept the first thing that came along. So that’s how I became a data analyst. I found the work dull and monotonous, and I had no real interest in it at all.
The company I was working for at that time was literally the workplace from hell, where all of the other staff members deliberately excluded me from their groups, no matter how hard I tried to fit in. It all came to a head that summer, when I took a huge breakdown in the office and had to be signed off sick for two months.
I felt trapped in my career, which I hadn’t even wanted, and knew I had to do something to turn things around. That’s when I first had the idea to do freelance writing on the side. I’d always been good with words, so why not give it a go? I didn’t really have anything to lose. I started browsing job sites, and managed to bag my first freelance client almost immediately.
The first job I was given had a deadline for the very next day, which meant I had to stay up most of the night to complete the work. Of course, now I understand how crazy that is, but at the time it felt like a huge win. I was finally earning money as a writer, and was a step closer to quitting the job I hated so much.
Leaving My Full-Time Job
Speaking to other freelancers, I often hear how tricky their decision was to leave full-time employment and go it alone. Uncertainty is a huge factor, as there are no guarantees you’ll succeed, or make enough money to live off. But there are always options available, such as looking for part-time work to help during the transition, which is what I did.
Quitting my full-time job was one of the best things I’ve ever done in my life, and I practically skipped into the office the day I told them I was leaving. That was exactly two years ago, and I haven’t looked back since.
At the moment I’m only making a fraction of what I earned as a data analyst, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I have the freedom to set my own rules, work wherever and whenever I like and, best of all, I’ll never have to deal with those toxic co-workers ever again!
Winning My First Writing Contest
This may seem hard to believe, but the very first writing contest I ever entered – I won! It was a local magazine and the prize was only £5, but still. It was great to have such a boost, so early into my writing career, and the feeling I got from winning I can hardly even describe.
If only my more recent attempts at writing contests had been as successful! ;p
My First Public Performance
Not long after I began to connect with other writers in my area, I heard about a monthly spoken-word event in the local coffee shop. I went along to watch, and was really impressed with the level of writing and performance. The atmosphere was very friendly and welcoming, with everyone offering support and encouragement. I really wanted to be a part of it.
The following month I returned, determined to get up and read something. I thought back to my school days where I dreaded getting up in front of the class. I felt sick with nerves, and when the announcer called my name I came over all dizzy as I stood up and walked to the front of the room.
Throughout my reading, the paper shook and my voice trembled as I tried to overcome my nerves. I know it wasn’t the best performance of the afternoon, but somehow I didn’t even care. I was amazed that I’d actually got up and done it, and was beaming with pride for days afterwards.
Setting Up My Own Writers’ Group
As most writers will know, it takes a bit of trial and error to find the best writing group for you. Some may focus on a particular genre or style of writing, others may consist solely of discussion or feedback. It doesn’t mean that some groups are better than others, just that each writer has different needs, and so you should look for a group which will fulfil these needs.
I tried a few groups in my area, even travelling into the city, however none of the groups I attended were quite what I had in mind. I felt a little deflated until I had a brainwave and decided to start my own group. I spoke to a couple of close writing pals who agreed to help, and so Rooftop Writers was born.
We’ve now held 6 monthly meetings, and have a regular core group of 6 or 7 writers, along with occasional new members who are always welcome.
Hosting An Event
A few months into our Rooftop Writers group, the idea of hosting our own event came up. It seemed like a natural progression, since the space where we hold our monthly writing group is open-plan and ideal for accommodating guests. It is an old warehouse which has been converted into an art studio, so we thought it would be a great idea to combine all of the arts – writing, poetry, art, music etc – into one event. As the founder of the group I was selected to co-host the event.
Even though I was used to performing my work in public, co-hosting felt like a huge challenge. I would have to welcome the guests and performers as they arrived, co-ordinate the running order, announce acts onto the stage, and generally ensure the smooth running of the evening. I surprised myself by managing to do it all, without even a hint of nerves. Not only that, but I did it without any alcohol to help loosen me up a bit (I’m pregnant!) so I really did impress myself that night.
The evening was a success, and we’re looking forward to putting on another similar event in the near future.
Writing A Novel
My ultimate dream as a writer is to have a novel published. It seems like a huge and daunting tasks, and usually with things of this magnitude, I panic. It’s almost as though I’m scared to start, so I put it off as long as possible. However, with this I knew the only thing that would bring me closer to my dream was to sit down and write.
Inspired by the idea of #NaNoWriMo (writing an entire novel in the space of a month) I decided to take the plunge last year. I’d already had an idea in my head, which I’d developed, and written into an outline. So, in June last year, I sat down to write…
And at the end of the month – guess what? I had a novel!
Of course, what nobody tells you is that this is when the hard work really begins. A year later and I’m still editing furiously, hoping to have the entire thing done and dusted before I have a baby in December. Even then, I still have to find an editor, agent, publisher. It could be years before I see my book on the shelves, and it might never happen…
But that initial feeling that I’d written a novel – wow. Definitely worth a celebration!
It has only been two years since I started my writing journey, and for me it feels like I’ve gone through a total transformation. It blows my mind to think back to when I was too shy to read aloud in front of my writing group, to where I am now – hosting events, performing all around Scotland and writing a novel.
I know these achievements are only small in the grand scheme of things, especially when you look at other writers who are out there producing critically-acclaimed masterpieces and earning millions. Perhaps that will come later for me, and maybe it won’t. But for the first time in my life I feel confident in myself, that I finally have a purpose in life, and I can’t wait to find out what the future will bring.
I’d love to hear back from other writers and artists – what has been your proudest moment to date? And what does success mean for you as a writer? Let me know in the comments below.
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