Friday Fun – When did you start writing?

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTION: When did you start writing? Was it when you were a kid? Maybe when you were in college? Or, are you a late bloomer? What got you started and what were some of the first things you wrote?


headshot_jw_thumbnailJamie Wallace: I started journaling when I was seven years-old. I know this because I still have the journal (pictured here). On that wintery January day back in 1977 I chose to begin my writing journey by copying part of Shakespeare’s poem, Fairy Song into a humble, spiral-bound notebook that most likely came from the supply closet of the bank where my parents worked.

I only vaguely remember the children’s poetry anthology in which I discovered the magical and whimsical lines, but I remember quite clearly the feeling of putting them down in my book. Even then, I knew there was great power in words. I felt very grown up as I carefully placed each letter and formed each word. Some part of me grasped the fact that these words had outlived the author who had written them. I caught a glimpse of immortality.

1st journal duo

Since then, I have continued to journal alongside my other writing. Though I  make my living as a copywriter, dabble in essays and journalism, and aspire to writing a novel, I will never give up my journaling practice. I rarely re-read my entries, but I love the quiet moments of intimate solitude that journaling provides – a few moments to commune with my own thoughts. What a gift in this otherwise crazy and chaotic world.

Lisa J. JacksonLisa J. Jackson: I can’t remember the exact age, but I started officially writing (I suppose) with my first diary. I’ve always loved to read, and I do remember learning to write in first grade (kindergarten was more for my artistic side with painting and drawing, it seems). Being able to craft my own words on my own pieces of paper was, and still is, a remarkable feeling for me. I admire the Native American habit of verbal storytelling, and am in awe at how generations are still telling the stories their great-great-great-great-great grandparents told. But, I love the art and physicality of writing. Typing is a time saver, for sure, and fabulous for productivity, but it’s pen-to-paper that feeds my soul daily. Doesn’t matter if I’m journaling, taking notes, making a shopping list, or writing for business, if there’s a pen or pencil in my hand, and paper under it, it’s bliss. I simply love writing.

hennrikus-web2Julie Hennrikus: What a great question. I think the “ah ha” moment came in fifth grade, when I wrote a poem for class and my mother said “wow, this is terrific”. It had never occurred to me that I could bring a reader joy until then. But I don’t think I really started to write until I was in my twenties, and realized I could write to please myself.




photo: M. Shafer

photo: M. Shafer

Deborah Lee Luskin: I started keeping a diary when I was nine, after reading Anne Frank’s. I started each entry, “Dear Kitty,” just like her.

35 thoughts on “Friday Fun – When did you start writing?

  1. I love Langston Hughes story. In junior high he wS chosen Class Poet. From then on he considered himself a poet! I tried to write my first story when I was eight. It was a fairy tale. I have kept a diary/journal most of my life. I have accummulated boxes of these notebooks. I also just loce weiting, but mostly witha pen. Although my “serious” writing is done typing, the journaling is with a pen. I can’t get any satisfaction from typing a diary. I have tried.

    • That IS a great story. 🙂
      Like you, I have never been able to get the hang of journaling via keyboard. I’ve tried (mostly because I thought it would be great to be able to search my entries … something that’s a bit of a rabbit hole with handwritten journals), but I always fall off the wagon and go back to my trusty pen and paper. 🙂

    • That was a lovely read, Charu.
      I love that you end with saying that everyone has a writer inside. I think that’s SO true. I just wish more people would let that writer come out to play!

  2. I love reading these stories – a poet in fifth grade! And I’m glad to read that you don’t go back and look at your journals either, Jamie. I have diaries and journals dating back to my 8th birthday when I received my very first. Inscribed in the cover is “To Andrea, with love from Grandma, Sept 4, 1982.” My writing life began that day.

    • Lots of writers with early starts! Such fun. 🙂
      I always imagine that when I am old and gray I will sit with my library of journals and peruse the thoughts and events I recorded throughout my life.

      … and then I realize that, for the most part, I would probably find it very dull reading. 😉

      I have taken to making marks in the margins of my journal entries to highlight any passage that I feel might be worth looking at in the future (as opposed to the pages and PAGES of schlock). It’s not perfect, but it’s a better system than I’ve had before.

  3. My writing life began sometime in 1989. I was born and grew up in Russia, a very dark and sad place in those times. I was homeschooled and had very few friends. I had started to create stories of a girl who lived in a sea side town, colorful, amazing place.
    As I write this, I am in Bar Harbor, Maine with my husband. I am thankful that writing made my existence back then filled with color and creativity.

    • What a lovely story. Writing gives us the ability to create a new reality. It really is a gift.

      I hope you have a wonderful time up in Acadia/MDI. We LOVE it up there and can’t wait to get back. So much natural beauty. Have fun!

  4. I think my earliest memory of writing is journaling. When I was a kid, I was specifically obsessed with capturing special occasions on paper. As I got older, I would just write the time, date and a funny little comment and save the piece of paper. I would do this on my birthday, at the exact moment that it became a new year etc. But when I was a kid, I wrote recounts of my day. I recently discovered one from my 8th or 9th birthday. (I’m 21 now). I couldn’t believe it when I found it. How had it survived all these years? It was literally tiny pieces of paper held together by tape. But the feeling I got when I found and read it- THAT was my intention in writing those journals.
    So I could relive an exciting day from my childhood, revisit younger me and create nostalgia. It was like a message for me from my younger self.
    I haven’t done journal entries for quite a few years now, but hopefully my recent blogging habit will continue and years from now, I can go back and read old posts, shake my head and think, “Wow, I was really obnoxious.” 😀

    • I also love the way that a journal entry can capture a moment like an ant in amber – letting us return much later to examine that day in a different light. I can’t tell you how embarrassing some of my journal entries from my youth are. The things I said about my mother!

      It’s nice to have gained some perspective, but it’s also nice to step back in time now and again.

  5. The majority of my life has been without writing. I did start my first story on a typewriter I found in an old house we lived in when I was around 12 or 13. I’m an only child who had moved five states away, so I would write stories about going on mystical adventures with all my friends. When I got into high school, I quit writing. Life got busy (I know this is a horrible excuse – Stephen King would slap me) and I went all the way through college without doing any writing on my own free will. I started doing some reflecting this last year on where I was, where I wanted to be, and what really made me happy. I realized how much I missed writing and still dreamed about it, so I started up again in my late 20s. This time, I hope I never stop, and hopefully can make it into a full time career.

    • I know that story well. I put writing aside for more “serious” (read: traditional and “safe”) pursuits when I was in my twenties. I so wish now that I hadn’t. I look back and wonder just where I might have gone if I had held onto my desire to write and just kept at it. I love my life today, but I also feel like I’m still playing catch up – making up for all the years when I denied what I really wanted because I was afraid I couldn’t have it. I’m still working towards that “perfect” career, but now that I’ve jumped back into my writing life, each day is one step closer to crafting a life adventure that I’m excited to live. 🙂

      • Thanks for the reply. It makes me feel a little more confident knowing there are others that did the same things I did when I was younger, and that there is still hope for me to turn back to the things I really enjoy in life. Thank you!

  6. Some write in their heads – or in the sky long before they can get their fingers to form the letters. Watch any pre-k kids.
    Is it just natural human characteristic that withers with age – except in those who have voices so loud they cannot be ignored?

  7. I began my love of writing in elementary school. I wrote my first poem, short story, and other writings like memoirs and narratives, and I was in love. I’ve been writing for fun ever since 🙂

  8. I began writing when I was in Class 3, and it was a poem. I was waiting with my mom in our car, and I decided to write a poem about a tree that I was staring at. My mom was quite shocked. I haven’t stopped writing since. And now its all kinds of writing – articles for newsletters, poems, haiku, incidents. I love it!

  9. Shortly after I learned to read, I started to write.
    I remember I wrote a little story about dying alone on a desert island underneath the light of a full moon. (I lived in Maryland state, nowhere near a desert island, so I am not sure how I came up with that).
    When my mom read it, she started crying. “What made you write such a sad story? What’s the matter with you!”

  10. I began writing stories at six. I started with crayon, moved to pencil, skipped up to ballpoint, graduated at typewriter, did upper division at dedicated word processor, and came out with advanced expertise at personal computer. Of course, back at six, I was also an illustrator. Finger-painting is regarded as both cute and high art in kindergarten, but falls under suspicion upon adulthood. It’s a bloody shame.

  11. Reblogged this on WIZARD'S WORKSHOP and commented:
    I began writing stories at six. I started with crayon, moved to pencil, skipped up to ballpoint, graduated at typewriter, did upper division at dedicated word processor, and came out with advanced expertise at personal computer. Of course, back at six, I was also an illustrator. Finger-painting is regarded as both cute and high art in kindergarten, but falls under suspicion upon adulthood. It’s a bloody shame.

  12. I remember writing a ghost/murder story when I was in Primary 3 – age7- (I think we were supposed to write what we had done during the weekend) and my teacher asked my parents what grown-up book I had copied it from.

  13. I began keeping a journal at age 13. I remember thinking in 4th grade that it would be cool to be a writer but at the time I never really thought it possible. I waited until I was in my early 30’s to really explore writing. Now I couldn’t be me if I didn’t write. The Positive Writer blog is doing a contest right now where you answer the question as to when you knew you were a writer. Might be great fun for many of you, here is the link with details:

  14. I began writing as soon as I was able to put thoughts together. I had a poem published at age 8 in the Dade country Public Schools songbook. I composed short stories on a typewriter my father bought me shortly after that. I never really consider “writing” per se, it was just something I did to amuse myself,
    obviously I had a wild imagination and was not particularly verbal but rather
    I enjoyed writing my thoughts.

  15. I started writing in a diary at around seven or eight years old, and was probably writing my first short stories around then, too. I was ahead of my class in my early years for reading and writing, and gobbled up as much as I could on my own. In second and third grades, we all had to write little stories and illustrate them. The moms volunteered to type them out and bind them. In my bio, I said I wanted to be an author when I grew up…and it just went from there – a stack of journals later, more than six years of blogging under my belt, dozens of newspaper clips, and thousands of other words in tweets, poems, and more – 20 years worth of writing!

  16. I was encouraged by my 4th grade English teacher …he had hopes that I might become a journalist …I was writing stories or telling them in my head before I could hold a pencil. Life took over and at 13 I became ill and missed 6 months of school; my life took a different turn. Although I’ve written for alternative magazines and write my own workshop journals/manuals I have only in this last 18 months truly settled to express what would otherwise cause me to implode (a messy process) …at 61 I completed Book 1 of my series (warts, errors and all) and a year later am now at 62, self-published x 3 …I can’t stop now! I remember so clearly receiving my GCE in the UK and passing English Lit and History with flying colours (we won’t speak of Math!)…the face of the teacher has remained with me always and his name, Ambrose, who wore a yellow spotted bow tie and cord trousers with a Hugh Grant-ish air about him that still makes me grin when I see a Hug Grant movie …I don’t think I will ever not, write …Penny

  17. I started keeping a diary when I was about 8? I loved to let my imagination run wild then – coming up with all kinds of imaginary friends and creatures. I decided to write about what I did with them when I met them! Later on journaling became a form of escape for me when I started having some problems with my parents. (But all’s good now!) When I was about 11, I discovered the world of online text role-playing (originally based off Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern series) and that kept me going for quite a few years! Since then, I’ve written a bit of fanfiction for various fandoms that I was into. I’ve been into screenwriting lately and earlier in the year, I got my first short film made and it has been doing its rounds in the film festivals. It truly is the best feeling ever to see your work become tangible and actually being appreciated by others!

  18. Pingback: Weekend Edition – Speed bumps, identity crises, and shorts plus good reads and writing tips | Live to Write - Write to Live

  19. Pingback: Weekend Edition – On “Real” Writers Plus Good Reads and Writing Tips | Live to Write - Write to Live

  20. Pingback: Guest post: ON “REAL” WRITERS PLUS GOOD READS AND WRITING TIPS | Funhouse

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s