Investing in myself as a writer

Investing in my writing practice is not new.

I completed an undergraduate degree in English Literature and Creative Writing and an MA in Children’s Literature but both left me strangely cold. Perhaps it was the competitive atmosphere that filled me with self-doubt or maybe it was my own insecurities but either way, I found myself frozen by fear and paralysed by my need for perfectionism. The consequence? I couldn’t let go and write.

2021 was an incredible year for me. I finished my manuscript in lockdown. I met and signed with the most brilliant of agents. My book went out on submission and secured a publishing deal with an editor and team who really ‘get it’. It’s the stuff writers dream of, right?

So what changed?

As I take the first tentative step into my debut year, I’ve been asking myself this question a lot and the answer I’ve reached is thus: I invested in myself as a writer. Financially. In time. But most of all emotionally.

I pushed myself to take my writing seriously and began to believe in my right to take up space at the writing table. I belonged there. I deserved a seat at the desk.

I still need to get better at carving out time to actually write and am far too distracted by social media and the dangers of endless scrolling. I’ve read other creatives talk about the challenge of balancing networking and career building with actually putting pen (or paintbrush) to paper but this winter I’ve realised how much I struggle with that.

Nevertheless, I have again sought out the courses and opportunities that I think will make the most difference to my writing and to my confidence and identity as a writer. They are:

  1. WriteMentor’s WMLit

This is a big investment but I got to much from Alexandra Sheppard’s workshops at both 2020 and 2021’s WOWCON that the opportunity to learn from her again was a big pull. Dr Liz Flanagan is going to unpick several recently published novels in terms of what makes them effective and when Imogen at Golden Egg did something similar for The Golden Egg Club, I found it invaluable. Plus authors like Phil Earle and Aisha Bushby will be sharing their insights. This one was too good to miss!

2. WriteEvent (with you guessed it…WriteMentor!)

Although I am a very experienced secondary school teacher and leader, my Autism and Dyspraxia mean I find public speaking really daunting and my anxiety makes the build up to events really overwhelming. Therefore when I read about this course in one of Stuart White’s brilliant newsletters, I knew I had to sign up. I am really keen to visit schools and libraries and get into bookshops and hope this gives me a bit more confidence in getting out there.

3. Arvon Writing Course

For several years, I’ve toyed with booking onto an Arvon course. A week away in beautiful countryside sounded just the ticket! I finally bit the bullet when my dream course was advertised. It’ll be my first time away from my baby but I am so excited to have a whole week of writing with likeminded people.

But investment doesn’t always mean paying for courses.

It can mean prioritising writing over relaxation or other hobbies. It can mean building up a library of these handy and oft recommended guides:

It can mean networking and making connections with other writers and industry professionals. The friendships I have forged through WriteMentor and social media have been a huge support this past year.

Whatever you do this year, take yourself seriously as a writer. Value your talent and abilities and invest in growing them.

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