The writing apprenticeship #amwriting

At the bottom of the article is a wonderful video, and well worth a watch for those who might be struggling to match their writing passion to their desired quality of work.

There are a few takeaways, but amongst them, that it is Okay for it to take time between starting your writing journey and achieving that illusive thing called quality.

Here’s a great notion to wrap your head around…most writers, even successful writers, still consider themselves to be amateurs. Not sure what that makes the rest of us, but I guess at its heart, we should simply only ever strive to do better tomorrow than we did today, should make our next book better than our last, and should not judge our first work too unfairly.

We have to start somewhere, and we have to learn along the way.

I recently went to a writing seminar, and as always at such events you quickly get into a discussion with fellow writers, about what you have done so far in your writing journey, and what you are planning to do next.

I was surprised by the number of people who wanted to be a writer but had written virtually nothing to date.

I realised that I was nothing like them, and that my own journey was considerably longer and slower.

Were these new writers being overly ambitious? Perhaps they were, or perhaps they were simply starting from a higher baseline than me. One thing I have realised from my own writing journey is that I am incredibly slow, and I have (in my old age) become comfortable with simply reaching my writing destination at my own snail-like pace.

So, here is my writing journey.

As a child

Sometimes parents just know their children love books – I was one such child. As long as I can recall I was either being read to, or reading for myself. I consumed books at a voracious rate, and my whole family indulged me. Not sure what to get me for Christmas or birthdays? Just get me a book, and they did in vast numbers. I read them just as fast. Pretty much at any point of my childhood I was reading age relevant books. I loved the fairy tales of mythical places and imaginary kingdoms, talking animals, dragons, castles, that was right up my street. My mother bought me a new ladybird book every week, and it was my absolute favourite treat. Sleeping beauty, The Princess and the Pea, The Roald Dahl collection, Aesops fables – these were my staple reading as a child. Later, I progressed to books such as The Mill on the Floss, and The Hobbit. 

Young adult

I started writing myself just after university (over twenty years ago now), and I have been writing pretty much ever since. It ebbs and flows as with all things in life. That pesky thing called reality and work can get in the way, but I have always been drawn back to write. And of course I never stopped reading.

I write a lot

During the last 20 years I wrote hundreds of parts of books, and a total of 2 full books, before I considered myself close to proficient. That’s a lot of writing. I wrote whatever and whenever I fancied. I didn’t constrict my ideas or my genre; I just leapt right in and wrote.

I considered this my apprenticeship of writing. I have no formal writing qualifications, I have the usual high school exams and good grades in English language and literature, but went on to complete a degree in maths and computing, and my career is based around that.


If I had one regret it would be that I did not stop to consider what I loved doing when I was younger, and that I had selected a degree that would complement my love of writing. But that’s just life isn’t it, we don’t always make the perfect decision, and we learn from whatever we do.

You know when it’s the one

I guess some people, such as the ones I met on my writing course, just know straight off that they have found the ‘one’, and some people, like me, have to battle through a vast and extended apprenticeship before they decide to commit to publishing a book.

One thing I do not regret is all the years I have spent writing, or the books I wrote that were not quite right. They taught me a lot.

We all have to start somewhere.

As the video mentions, we all must pass through an apprenticeship of some kind, whether that apprenticeship is long or short doesn’t really matter, the important thing is that we keep going and we come out on the other side.

I realise that I am not a finished product, that my life will teach me much more about writing, and that I will ultimately look back on my first published novel and realise it wasn’t my best. And that is a wonderful thought—to expect that I will always keep improving.

I also realise that we all have to start somewhere, and that the most important step is simply to start.

I hope you enjoy the video 🙂 and happy writing!

Divided Serenity out now on all Amazon stores, and free with Kindle Unlimited.

Divided Serenity Book Cover

17 thoughts on “The writing apprenticeship #amwriting

  1. It always strikes me funny how people try to parse how and when they are entitled to call themselves “writers.” If you write, you’re a writer. If not, then no (and, like you, I’ve met those “writers” who haven’t actually written anything — would you call yourself a sax player if you’ve never played a note?).

    I’m like you — I’ve been reading foreer (I had my first library card when I was five years old) and writing nearly as long.

    As for the degree — I wonder how many of the great writers in history had writing degrees. I know when I’m considering reading a book, I never look up the writer’s academic qualifications. 🙂

    I completely agree about not regretting the false starts and so on — that is how you learn.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I had the same kind of childhood, always devouring books. My parents indulged my reading passion by taking me to the library weekly (they were both avid readers themselves) and then purchasing books for me as I got older. My father also dabbled in writing when he was younger and encouraged me to do the same. I started writing at six and never looked back.

    It’s never too late to decide you’re going to publish. I spent years thinking I would, but never took the plunge until three years ago when I decided it was going to happen….one way or the other. Congrats to you are your latest novel and all the years you’ve spent learning. They were definitively not wasted. Looking forward to seeing more of your journey!


  3. I use to get discourage by the fact that my studies were in audio production and film because I thought people wanted to read books by authors whom had degrees in literature and writing. I think it wasn’t until my economics teacher told me you don’t need a degree to write a book, you just need the idea and passion.
    I’m thinking about posting a blog about my writing journey now that I have read yours. Everyone has such a different upbringing and find writing and literature in different places. It’s actually like a story for aspiring writers that are looking for a kick in the butt to start. Thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sounds like you economics teacher knew a lot more than just economics 😉
      I think that writers, as you say, all come via different life journeys, and that brings wonderful diversity to what we write. Personally, I love reading about how other people have come to be writers, what keeps them inspired, and all the trials along the way. So please write it! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You touch on a lot of points that are relevant to me. I have been writing for a couple of years now, but still consider myself ‘new’ to this whole writing thing. I have had a few successes with short stories, and reading this post and some of the comments, i guess that makes me a writer (I don’t think i’ve ever said that before).
    I think posts / blogs like this i can feel more in sync with, as some of the other prolific writers who have dozens of novels under their belts are quite a bit removed from where I am, and have the effect (for me at least) of demotivating me – how can i ever hope to reach that standard, whilst trying to hold down 2 jobs and look after a family etc.
    I will try to do something similar on my own blog – ‘thoughts from a new writer’ kind of thing.
    Thanks for sharing this!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always nice when things you write resonate with other people, whether it is a blog post or a story. I read all kinds of blogs both from people who achieve what we typically call writing success, and from those, who like me, have not yet. I was recently doing some training, and in it they talk about the importance of appreciating the journey, and of setting smaller goals along the way. As a naturally impatient person I at first dismissed this. Later, I though about how fantastic I felt just to get my book edited, and I realised there’s a lot to be said for all the steps along the way. You have had success with short stories while holding down two jobs and supporting your family – that sounds like something pretty amazing to me. Sometimes you have to stop and look back to realise how far you have come, and get ready to take your next exciting steps. Looking forward to following your blog 🙂


  5. I enjoyed reading this blog. I’ve been writing since I was about 14 and there has never been any question to me that I am a writer–whether I ever get published or not. Readers don’t make a writer; only writing makes a writer. Of course it’s the dream to be a paid writer, but ultimately that doesn’t define us.

    And I could perhaps ease your regret some. My husband and I both majored in creative writing and we have our own regrets. The truth is, If you’ve ever been to a writer’s workshop, you’ve attended the equivalent of almost every upper-level creative writing class. At least in our education, the emphasis was very much on practicing and honing the craft, receiving feedback, and reading. There’s no need to pay thousands of dollars to do that! You can do that in your living room for free! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and your lovely comments 🙂 I guess I just love writing so much I wish I had done more of it sooner. The best thing about writing is you are never to old to do it or learn more 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post! I did a podcast talking about myself as a writer and I have regrets about not doing things sooner. I am changing that. I have a lot of writers on Twitter that I follow so I am going to share this if that’s okay. It’s great support when you see others who you can connect with.

    Liked by 1 person

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