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  • Writer's pictureWriting Voices

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Whether you discovered your passion for the written word a little bit later in life or you were a child-dreamer, scribbling stories on scraps of paper, wouldn't it be wonderful if you could send a few words of wisdom back along your own timeline? Hindsight is 20/20, after all! We asked the Write Yorkshire Scribble what one piece of advice they'd most like to share with their younger self.

Okay babe, there’s going to come a time, once you’ve done some growing up, when you’re going to remember that you’re a writer. You’re going to need to write.

The problem is, you’re going to believe that a full length fiction novel is the only thing worth working on and you’re not going to be ready for that. You’re going to start and abandon multiple projects. Those false starts are going to sit on your hard drive and mock your inability to see a writing project through. Those unfinished projects will make you feel impotent. You’re going to be desperate to create something in its entirety and share it with the world and it’s not going to happen for you (yet).

You’re going to start believing you don’t have what it takes. It’s going to hurt.

Don’t give up.

When that time comes, work on those projects, because one day they might turn into something. But don’t forget that you can work on other things. Work on flash fiction and short stories and vignettes when you want to. Embrace some variety. Try some nonfiction. Remember that there’s a lot more to being a writer than finishing a one hundred thousand word manuscript and landing a big five publisher. Go out and get those little wins. I promise you won’t be wasting your time.

You’re good at this. You’ve got this.

P.S. Don’t forget to enrol on that Masters degree you always planned on getting around to.

Now then, you. You have a talent. Listen to the people who are telling you that. Don’t do what you always do, and think that success isn’t for the likes of you; that lasses from Hull council estates can’t be journalists or writers or novelists. It’s not that big of a dream, really. Loads of people do it - why the hell not you?

In the meantime, use that talent to bring you joy! Join writing clubs, write for the student magazine when you get to university, send stuff off to competitions - practise your art. Because you do need the practice, and the longer you leave it, the more difficult it will be to get really good. That novel you’re convinced you’re going to write one day is not going to pop out of you, fully-formed, like an egg. You’re going to have to craft it, and doing so will be graft.

But writing is going to bring you so much joy! You’ll meet the best people in your life through writing - even the love of your life.

So you might as well get started sooner rather than later.

Stop trying to impress the wrong people. Just stop. You're going to hurt yourself so many times, in so many ways, for no good reason and some of that damage isn't ever going to be undone.

The thing is, you could write the best thing ever written and those kids at school would still laugh at it, or those people at college would still sneer at it. The worst part is, you know that you don't even really like those people, so why are you hurting yourself trying to impress them? What they think will never matter, some people just won't like you or your writing and that's okay. Because you cannot please everyone. You just can't. But if you just stick with it and keep writing, you're going to find the people you actually want to impress and you're not going to impress all of them, but you are going to impress some of them.

The biggest and best thing you're going to realise is that the most important person you'll ever impress, is you.

Dear H,

First things first, stop writing about cigarettes – it’s not as cool as you think it is. Also, you will never be Kerouac. You do not want to be Kerouac. Be yourself. Writing is not supposed to be cool. Nobody is going to read your writing and think “hell yeah, this guy rocks”. You want the people who read your work to laugh and cry and to feel things. You want to bare your soul and your insecurities. Your writing should affect and evoke emotion in its audience, not impress them because it’s “cool".

Another thing, don’t lose sight of the fun. When you were a kid and you used to write stories, you did it because it was fun. Because you enjoyed losing yourself in the world and the characters that you were creating. At some point, you stopped doing that. It became an exercise in trying to write something good or original. Something that people would be impressed by. It wasn’t fun anymore.

Don’t worry, the fun comes back. You rediscover how it felt to write for no reason other than enjoyment. Just don’t leave it so long. Writing can be something that you love to do, something that makes you happy. Don’t forget that.


H. x


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Cover image by Annie Spratt via Pixabay


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