Writer's Block

People like me can’t be writers…

This is the story I told myself for many years. I can remember when I was six years old being asked to writer a story at school. I loved everything about it and rushed home and asked my mum if I could please borrow her typewriter to write my story and make it into a book. During my TEDx Talk I talked about this experience and how it sparked my love of writing. This was a pivotal moment for me. I had discovered a love of writing and words that would never leave me and I will always be grateful to Mrs Duffy for knowing how to nurture that in children. 

I spent the next few years immersed in writing stories, creating little books and even creating my own lending library one summer where the children around the street could borrow my comics. I made little library cards and had a very good system.

I was an avid reader throughout primary school. I loved Enid Blyton and read Famous Five, Secret Seven and The Faraway Tree books until I was almost word perfect and fantasised about living a life full of ginger beer and adventures with my friends and a dog called Timmy. 

Would my passion survive?

Sadly, my love of reading was crushed a little by the pressures of reading at high school and being made to read things I didn’t enjoy. Fortunately it was such a strong force that it  returned by the time I reached sixth form and I began reading again for pleasure (despite having to read some books I really wasn’t enjoying as part of my A level English Literature course.). By the time I started my teaching degree I was back to my old reading self, reading everything from Elmer the Patchwork Elephant to Plato and pretty much everything in between. By then though I had already decided that people like me couldn’t be writers.

I had tried the only potentially attainable career involving writing during my teens when I had written for the schools page of our local paper, but journalism wasn’t for me, it felt too intrusive and voyeuristic. I didn’t like the idea of having to turn up on someone’s doorstep when they had just lost a loved one in tragic circumstances. That wasn’t something I would have dealt with, even if it wasn’t every day.

As for writing books, that was only for very rich people.

Why did I think this?

Well, as a child we spent most of our holidays in our caravan and our parents were keen to show us as much of the UK as possible, so every holiday we visited a different area of the country. We went to Stratford and visited Shakespeare’s house and saw a play, we went to Hardy’s Wessex and went to visit his house (as show in this photo), we visited Haworth and went to see the Brontë Parsonage. I loved seeing where these classic works of fiction were created and how the author’s lived. Over the years I visited many famous author’s homes and watched programmes about their lives and writing habits. 

None of them lived in an end terrace, they all lived in grand houses with beautiful studies and reading rooms. 

Looking back now, it’s obvious why. Most of these famous authors; Dickens, the Brontë sisters, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy… wrote in times when the average person couldn’t read and write. Compulsory education didn’t come in until 1880 in the UK, most of the authors I revered were dead before then. In order to write a book, you have to be able to read and write and afford not just paper and ink but also the time to indulge in writing. It would have been indulgent in those days too, because most people’s days were filled with cooking, cleaning, washing and working, certainly as a woman. Bearing in mind you were only expected to live into your 40s you didn’t really have time to write a novel.

Of course as a young adult none of these things really registered with me, and in my defence, this was in a time before self publishing when you not only needed the time to write, you also needed to be good enough, and have written something competent and desirable enough. for them to invest in. 

But times have changed for people like me…

Now of course there are so many more options for writers. You can create an ebook and make it downloadable, you can self publish or go the traditional publishing route. If you want to write you can find a way and most people can find the time. 

I haven’t written a book, yet, but I have a first draft of one and an idea for another. I have written hundreds, if not thousands, of blogs newsletters, social media posts… I have released my words into the world and hopefully had a positive impact on people, for years now. 

If you want to write, whether it is for yourself, or to create something for others to read, don’t be put off by the wood lined studies of famous authors of the past. You can write on your knee on the sofa, in a cafe, at the kitchen table… anywhere, and lots of famous authors do. It’s not what is around you are you write, but what pours out of you that matters. 

Have you been guilty of any of these thoughts? How can you overcome these fake stories you have been telling yourself?



If you want to start writing, why not join us for The Writer’s Forge or Inkwell Scribes ?