What Makes a Writer?

I think most writers knew early in life that they had the ‘writing gene’ or whatever magical thing it is that makes us writers. I’ve heard a lot of writers say they started writing when they were young, or they knew they were destined to write at some early point in their lives.

For me, I ‘knew’ my freshman year in high school, when I was around 13-14. I was an avid reader through middle school and high school, sometimes reading two books a week. But that year, I started writing my own stories in spiral notebooks. I was fortunate a fellow classmate who also liked writing ended up reading my stuff and gave me a lot of support and encouragement. I dedicated my first book to him! Without that early boost I might have doubted myself and given up.

I ended up taking creative writing classes in high school, a course you had to prove your writing chops for to be accepted into, and my love of writing and reading continued on into adult life.

But really, it started way before that. In second grade, we had to draw pictures of houseboats and write a paragraph about the imaginary family who lived on our houseboat. I ended up writing an entire page about my family. I can’t remember the story at all, but I remember it happened because my teacher made a huge fuss about it and the story won some sort of second grade writing contest and got tacked up on the wall for everyone to look at on Parent’s Night. Was I actually born a writer and it was manifesting itself even then? Perhaps.

Creativity is such a mysterious force. What makes one person creative and another person not? And even amongst creative people, there’s different types of creativity: some write, while others paint, act, sing, play instruments, or dance. Some can do many creative things while others can only do one or a few (I can barely draw a stick figure and you certainly don’t want to hear me sing). What makes this happen? Is it genetics? Your upbringing? Something you saw when you were young and impressionable? Is it just the way your brain is wired?

Creativity is a powerful force that seems to have some sort of magic to it. At least, I think it feels that way to creative people. It’s something we just have and know about ourselves, like some people have red hair or blue eyes. It’s essential to who we are. I don’t want to know the science of it, not really, because I love the magic of it.

When did you know you were a writer? Did it come to you when you were young?

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