I need to explain why I want to be a writer, now, after years of mere aspiration. It’s hard to justify the existence of The Writing Struggle without doing so.
Why, despite wanting to write for as long as I can remember, have I never really done it consistently? What has changed now?
And what is it about writing that I find so appealing, so me?
Why, despite wanting to write for as long as I can remember, have I never really done it consistently?
Some mates of mates were running a hybrid UK garage music website and radio station when I was 18 which, in hindsight, was massively ahead of its time bearing in mind we’re talking about the prehistoric days before social networks existed. It was MSN Messenger back then and nothing else; not a Bebo in sight.
I got involved on the content side.
The highlight came when MC Harvey, a member of So Solid Crew, was promoting his first solo single Get Up And Move. I ended up going to interview him in Soho. Surreal. This was a celebrity who featured heavily on rotation in my car and appeared on tracks I’d been listening to at parties for years; I felt a bit like a competition winner. The interview went well, though, despite my youthful attempts at street cred (something I’ve never properly grown out of).
I also got asked to interview More Fire Crew – Lethal Bizzle’s pre-solo career group – as part of the promo for their album More Fire Crew C.V. after the success of single Oi!. I would have done it, but for it being the middle of my final school exams.
And then, when I should have kicked on with what was turning into a great experience in early 2000s DIY internet culture, the website discontinued. When I look at the type of thing I’d love to be involved in now, and what I had in my hands back then, it’s hard not to smile wryly at what could have been.
At university, I joined the student newspaper but never did anything with my membership. I wanted to, but I wanted to do a lot of things like play rugby league, go to the gym, speak to the opposite sex, run my own club nights and get a degree. I had variable success with each, and I smashed that 2:1 in history.
Truth be told, I didn’t know where to start with most of these things and I didn’t have the confidence to do just do them; I severely lacked motivation and accountability. I don’t think I am alone in feeling this way about things I could and should have done, and failures inevitably make you who you are today. Still, though…another case of if only.
Then, the real world: work work work work work. Leaving education in 2008 was great timing in terms of job opportunities so, when I finally landed a role in 2009, I got my head down and stuck it out until I qualified as a solicitor in 2013.
During this time, I did some writing but most of my ideas simply fell by the wayside.
During the decade which started with my last year at school and ended with my qualification as a solicitor, writing played a background role as something I liked the idea of, wanted to do more of and occasionally actually did. So why didn’t I do it enough?
I think it comes down to three factors:
- Lack of motivation.
- Lack of confidence.
- Lack of accountability.
I didn’t have good enough reasons to spend my time writing instead of doing other so-called more important things. I didn’t know where to start, who to ask and what to do. And I didn’t have any deadlines or external expectations placed upon me.
I had the ideas, I just didn’t know what to do with them.
What has changed now?
I started laying the groundwork in 2013. I consciously began moving myself towards the goal of writing consistently.
To cut a long story short, I started freelancing.
The freedom of working for myself, combined with interesting projects at different companies and meeting lots of new people, has meant I’ve been able to gain a different perspective on my priorities. I’ve been able to take a step back and assess what is important to me, and writing is the itchiest of itches I’ve needed to scratch for a very long time.
Working for myself has given me the impetus to move forward with my writing ideas. Knowing what I could and should have done in my twenties fuels my motivation, and I am no longer afraid of starting. I have that confidence. The only thing lacking has been the accountability, which is where The Writing Struggle comes in.
Lo and behold, the three excuses from my twenties no longer hold any weight; that’s what’s changed.
If I don’t write now, I just have to accept it’s because I didn’t try hard enough.
And what is it about writing that I find so appealing, so me?
All this is well and good, Jack, I hear you saying, but what the hell does it have to do with you wanting to be a writer?
The fact is, as I’ve spelled out above, I only have sporadic experience of writing consistently for myself. I have written lots over the years, but The Writing Struggle is the first proper and regular outlet for my work.
And the reason I’ve prioritised writing over all else, and why I find it so appealing, is because I love it.
I love being able to say what I want. To express myself. To try different ways of saying things. To talk about what interests me, my passions. To have somewhere where I can play around with all those ideas I’ve come up with and done nothing about. To come up with new ideas. To be creative.
I think I’m good at it. That doesn’t mean I actually am, and you certainly might not think I am. But, in my head at least, this is something I’ve got a tiny bit of talent in which I need to explore.
There are other side effects of writing which also excite me, like being able to do it wherever I want. These are important, but they aren’t the fundamental reason for being a writer. Freedom is great, but only if it’s a long-term result of doing what I want to be doing.
I wanted to be a rapper for a bit when I was younger. I never did because I lacked the motivation, confidence and accountability to do anything about it. That, and come on. Me. A rapper. What was I thinking?
Writing means I can still be a rapper. Or a rugby player. Or interview people who have done those things, and more besides.
That might sound stupid but, really, writing to me is about all the things I wanted to be, and didn’t want to be, and can be, and can’t be, and everything else. It’s a gateway to an alternate reality where anything is possible. It’s ecstasy, madness, sadness and joy. It’s life.
It is also intensely personal.
That’s why, y’know, I’ve set up this website to share my work with the world.
(Oi! If you’d like to get in contact, get up and move over to the About page where you’ll find more information.)
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