Business owner, mum, community volunteer and WRITER, Vicky Eaton shares her experience of writing a non-fiction book on Commercial Conversions. Vicky’s entertaining and personal piece details a number of challenges she has overcome in writing her first book. In particular, she raises that tricky question of when is a person who writes officially ‘a writer’. It’s a tough mantel for many of us to be comfortable wearing and Vicky brilliantly documents the experience of earning her writerly crown below…
I, me, wrote a book. Imagine that!
I certainly didn’t start out intentionally on a path to be a writer, it just kind of happened. My business partner and I run our own business and a colleague asked if we could provide a chapter for their book with a case study about our business. I wrote the chapter, really enjoyed doing it, and seeing the writing in print, albeit in somebody else’s book, was definitely a bit of a boost.
When it was later suggested that we would really benefit from having a book about our own business to support the training and coaching we provided, I rather boldly thought, ‘I could write that’. After all, I’d written a chapter already and a book was only more of the same, right?! Roll forward 2 years and with the support of a fabulous writing coach, the book is now written, we have a publisher, it is in the editing stage and fingers crossed will soon be in print. It all sounds so simple summed up in that neat sentence. If only!
When can you call yourself a writer?
Whether I am officially a writer is a question which has bothered me since I started what might grandly be called ‘my writing journey’. When can you call yourself a writer? There’s no bar exam, there’s no mandatory professional qualification to help figure it out. And of course, everyone knows that writers are creative, they have passion and intent. They stay up all night frantically scribbling, churning out thousands of words. Writers write fabulous fiction. Writers are most definitely not middle-aged mums, writing a few hundred non-fiction words in-between school runs, work emails and putting the washing out.
Writers are most definitely not middle-aged mums, writing a few hundred non-fiction words in-between school runs, work emails and putting the washing out.
Does it matter, you might ask, whether you can call yourself a writer? Of course! Well, to me at least. An obvious and completely rational extrapolation of my own sense of non-writerliness led me rather neatly onto, if I couldn’t class myself as a ‘writer’, then how could my writing possibly be either a. any good, or b. needed?
So having stacked a good few psychological hurdles in my own way it seemed like a good time to start writing.
Life carries on happening
Whilst I was writing ‘the Book’, as it became lovingly/ despairingly/proudly referred to, life carried on happening. My business partner was also my husband, and he became an ex -husband. This provided a few challenges along the way to say the least. If anything, however, this made me much more determined to finish the Book; despite all else that was happening, it was something I could be proud of, plus I’d said I would write it and by heck I was going to finish it! It also became a reassuring constant; a productive distraction and I started relishing the writing as a process and not just for the output.
During this same time, I discovered I had early-onset arthritis in my hands. It was clear that although lots of keyboard time wouldn’t make my hands worse, it would mean more discomfort to manage.
Although it wasn’t a good day at the time, and initially I couldn’t see how I was going to carry on doing so much typing, in retrospect there was a silver lining too. Coming at the point in time it did, when I was really determined to complete the Book, and when I was finding the process so helpful too, meant I very quickly searched for alternative ways of getting my words onto paper so I could carry on with the writing within the new constraints. There was no way I was going to let this medical hiccup hinder production of the Book. Realising I felt this way made me see just how important writing was becoming to me and how much I valued it, something I might not have otherwise noticed.
Voice instead of hands
I explored how to use my voice instead of my hands to get the words onto the screen and this opened a realm of possibilities in the form of dicta apps. These changed both the speed at which I was producing words (significantly increasing productivity) and also the words themselves. I found the process of thinking and typing to be quite different to the process of thinking and speaking and the writing started to sound quite different. My own voice and turns of phrase were coming through much louder and clearer and it took me a little practice to achieve a balance between the informality of my spoken writing whilst maintaining the ’me’ in the words.
I now thoroughly enjoy my changed writing routine of picking up my phone, opening the dicta app, and pacing around the house and garden ‘writing’, reducing time spent at the keyboard to editing only. It keeps my step count up too!
Exciting paths to come
Sticking with the journey metaphor, it feels like there’s some distance behind me now on my writing journey, but some exciting paths still to come. The Book is well on its way to the shelves, and I am currently busy exploring my next writing projects. I have lots of ideas I’m working up for both fiction and non-fiction writing, my dicta app is at the ready, and who knows, perhaps once the book is in print, I might actually feel comfortable enough to start calling myself a writer 😊
From a RidleyWrites point of view – if you think you might be a writer, you definitely are! But you don’t need to walk that road alone. Here are a few ways we can help
If you’d like to have a chat about your own writing project and ideas you can book a free 30-minute chat with me via Calendly
And if you’re looking for some weekly insights and writing tips, why not sign up to my newsletter here.