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This is my own writing history. It is my journey through all kinds of different mediums; from letters, journals, poems and essays to business writing, internet copywriting and books. You are also a writer now, but perhaps you don’t realise it yet. Hopefully, my story will help you realise how far you have already come!
I was a teenager when there was no email (shock horror!) so I spent a lot of time writing letters. I loved writing them and getting letters in the post in return. I used to go to summer camp and then wrote copiously for months afterwards to my new friends. They were full of teenage angst, boy problems and what I was into at the time.
I have also written letters all my life to my Mum, especially when I have been travelling. Even with email, sometimes it is important to send handwritten words, or a card. There are letters I have written and never sent, like the one I wrote to my Dad before going to Israel to work one summer. It was in case I died, but the words I wrote are still important to me today.
I had a phase where I wrote a lot of poetry. In my teens, the poems were pretty awful and repetitious. While I was at University I had one poem published in the Oxford and Cambridge May Anthologies. Later on, I took a weekend seminar on poetry and also a correspondence paper which helped me improve. Here is one of the poems I wrote then, An Ocean Meditation. I did submit some to a poetry magazine and was told that they needed a lot of work! I now write poetry occasionally for my own pleasure.
Journals and notebooks
I have been writing journals since I was 15 – the picture is a stack of them. I don’t write a diary of what I do every day, but I write my thoughts and notes from what I am reading, studying or experiencing. I stick letters (and now emails) into the diary, and I record my goals and achievements. I have diagrams and outlines of books and business ideas, as well as quotes and To Do lists. My journals are actually my notebooks for life!
I have also used journals for healing. When I got divorced, I wrote 4 journals over 6 months and packed them with all my emotion, hurt and pain. When I read them now, I don’t recognize that person. My journals became my therapy and once I had emptied myself of that time, I was able to start again. I wholeheartedly believe in writing as healing.
I now use Moleskine notebooks after one of my writing heroes, Bruce Chatwin. His own writing journals will be available to view at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, England in 2010. It is also encouraging to note that Thomas Edison, one of the most creative entrepreneurs of history, used notebooks to record his ideas. He had them everywhere so he would never forget anything. Periodically, I reread my notebooks and fill new notebooks with thoughts that come and ideas I mean to follow up. When writing my new book, I reread all the notes in order to find important ideas to add.
I have done a lot of traveling, much of it alone. I always carry a journal and write as I go. My travel writing includes what I did on certain days as well as more detail about the country itself, the people and my impressions. I also include excerpts from books I have read on the country and stick pictures in. Some trips have been times of extreme personal growth, including my trip to Australia in 2000 and India in 2006.
As an arts student, I spent most of my academic career writing essays so it was a formative time for my writing. I think that is how I really learned structure, writing style and grammar, as well as expressing my own opinion in a coherent manner. At Oxford University, I was taught under the tutorial system where you read and discuss your essay with a Professor, sometimes alone. This pressure to perform certainly enabled me to produce essays relatively easily.
As well as being an author, I am a business consultant. I go into businesses and improve their processes and systems. This often involves understanding the business and then presenting my findings and recommendations in a document before implementation. This writing is concise, professional and in business language. I also write business-related emails, training documents, and business communication documents. Business writing improves your ability to research and organize your information, although perhaps it stifles the creativity a little!
This is new for me as I have only started in the last year and I am still learning. Copywriting for the internet is very different to other types of writing as people scan. You also need to grab people’s attention with headlines and sub-texts. However, it is critical to learn in order to be successful selling on the internet so I am willing to learn and try it out!
I have now published one book, “How to Enjoy Your Job”, and my second book “From Idea to Book” is at the editors (and due out Feb 2009). I am also a co-author in “Living an Abundant Life” and have a chapter in “Sprout the Life you love”. Everything I have learned in my writing life has led up to this. I even include excerpts from my diaries in the books, as well as apply all the lessons I have learned in writing. Each book teaches something new so I am always learning. I have other ideas for books, including phobias (as I have suffered them) and spiritual places in the world (I have a degree in Theology). So I continue to learn and continue to write.
I hope this has encouraged you to think that you are also a writer…Remember, the journey is just beginning! Perhaps this will encourage you to write your own writing history.