When did you start writing?

by | Jun 28, 2017 | The Writing Life | 18 comments

Some people got an early start, some people got a late start. But we all got started somewhere.

When did you really start writing?

I started in high school, then spent most of my twenties convincing myself I wasn’t a writer before I picked it up again.

What about you?

I’m available for manuscript edits, query critiques, and consultations! And if you like this post, check out my guide to writing a novel.

Art: The Difficult Reply by Guy Rose


  1. Mary Kate

    I'm pretty similar to you. I wrote constantly when I was a child, on through to the first couple of years of high school, and then I became more concerned with being cool and dropped it in favor of spending my time trying to do that. This stage last on through college.

    Then, when I realized I didn't love working at an office for a living, I started writing again at age 24. Later than some, not as late as others!


    But seriously, as long as I can remember. As a child, and with publishing ambitions, as a teenager, which was some time ago!


    Thanks for the link to your April post, Nathan, which I reread with renewed interest. But I do wonder if it is accurate to describe time not writing as 'wasted', something I do myself too. Stephen King (in?)famously described time not writing as 'dicking off'. Yet most people do not write much or at all, and what King called 'dicking off' is what they call 'life'.

    So I must ask myself, if I wrote more, what would the writing have replaced? What book would I not have read? What walk would I not have taken? What relative or friend would I not have visited or phoned? Perhaps writing would have been preferable, but maybe not.

  4. Arizela

    The first time I remember writing fiction, I think I was 14 or so. I've always had a lot of pain in my hands, so writing things out long-hand was a challenge for me. When I was 14, we got a hand-me-down electric typewriter from a relative. I typed page after page right up until we ran out of ribbon, which my family was too poor to replace. I didn't pick it back up until I got my first computer years later, and didn't really start to take it seriously until my son was four and I switched from academic writing to writing fiction. These days, I'm back to mostly academic writing, but I still find time for fiction now and then.


    Arizela's comment reminds me not to take my plentiful writing materials for granted.

    C. S. Lewis was never actually poor but gave away a lot of his income and was careful with spending. He wrote a single draft in longhand and rarely revised, or needed to. He used every scrap of paper he could find, and writes near the end of 'A GRIEF OBSERVED' that he was going to finish the book soon because he was almost out of paper!

  6. Janiss Garza

    I wrote my first "book" when I was 7 (about my two turtles), then other than drawing and writing comics, I didn't get back into writing until middle school (mostly fiction), and have been writing consistently ever since. I started actually getting paid for my efforts as a rock journalist in the mid-1980s.

  7. Stacy McKitrick

    I started really writing 8 years ago, at the age of 51. I wrote short stories in high school, for English classes, but it didn't stick. Guess I just wasn't ready yet.

  8. Adam Heine

    I was writing fantasy and Choose Your Own Adventures when I was, I dunno, 6 or 7? I kept writing stuff until senior year in high school when I realized I was just copying other people's stories. So I quit for about six years (same as you) until one day I needed to write again.

    Fortunately, by that time I had learned one of the most important truths I ever learned: there is nothing original, there is only you. It stopped me from beating myself up over being derivative so I could just write.

    Been writing for real ever since.

  9. Michelle

    Short stories from age 8, poetry age 11, novellas age 15, novels age 25.
    Plan to write for next 40 years at least 🙂

  10. literary_lottie

    Like others here, I starting writing in elementary school – my school district had an annual writing competition, in which each student from 1st-5th grade had to submit a poem or short story. Most kids opted for poems because they were shorter, but I discovered I liked writing prose fiction. (My first "book" was an illustrated story I wrote for my baby cousin on the origins of one Mr. Jack O. Lantern. Yeah, I know. I was seven, okay?) This interest was reinforced in middle school, when, at age 12, I discovered Harry Potter fanfiction. I went on to write a lot of fanfic during my preteen and teen years, but by my senior year of high school I'd moved on to original stories and worlds.

    Then, college happened. Writing so many academic papers per semester just killed both my voice and my joy in writing. I struggled academically due to untreated depression and ADD, and because of that writing became stressful and dreaded, something I associated with shame and failure. It took the better part of a decade to unlearn that toxic association and find my motivation again. Now I'm 28, and it's really only been in the past year that I've started writing fiction with an regularity.

  11. Donna  L Martin

    Hi Nathan,

    I started making up stories when I was 4…graduated to writing poetry when I was 7 & 8. I won a writing contest sponsored by my hometown library when I was 11. I kept up the poetry until I was in my early twenties before I let family members convince me my writing was worthless.

    I put down my pen for twenty-five years. Fast forward to 2010 when I started having nightly dreams for three week…full blown picture books and novels. I decided then to return to my writing and have since traditionally published a few books with my latest one coming out in October of this year.

    It's been an interesting journey of discovery…of the genres I enjoy writing (picture book, historical fiction chapter books, new adult fantasy and a touch of mystery)…as well as the inner peace knowing I'm doing exactly what I love doing…

    Take care,
    Donna L Martin

  12. Susan Tuttle

    Made up all sorts of stories from pretty much day one… I always had an alias when I went to the doctor's office… LOL. And my brother once was a dead lion in the corner of my play house when I was 5. Ah, imagination!

    Started writing for real after having a poem published in my local paper when I was 10, and I received a "fan" letter from a reader @45 miles away telling me how much he loved the poem. Said he put it on his wall and read it every day. I was hooked!

    Won awards in high school for my work, then got sidetracked in college by theater. But I still wrote, editing books on gifted and talented education for DOK Publishers through high school, then co-writing a program on raising children in college and after I got married.

    When my son was about 11, I started writing fiction again, reading him a chapter a night as bedtime stories. Mostly "dabbled" in writing (though I did complete 5 books!) until I moved to CA in 2004; from then on it's been full steam ahead. Have 13 books out now, and am in 5 anthologies, with one more coming by the end of the year. Working on a PI series, two YA series and a series of spiritual meditations.

    Loving every writing minute of it!

  13. JOHN T. SHEA

    I'm sorry to say Literary-Lottie's experience does not surprise me. Paradoxically, education can kill both reading and writing. I'm glad she revived her interest.

  14. Nancy S. Thompson

    I started writing my first novel at 47. Got my first traditional publishing contract at 48. Went indie with all subsequent novels at 51. I'm currently 53.

  15. G.B. Miller

    I started writing in 2005, when I was going through some very personal issues and I found writing to be a heckuva lot cheaper than therapy. Had a few short stories published, did a one and done with a traditional publisher and been doing indie since 2013. Oh and, I'm currently 52, so I got a extremely late jump on the writing thing, although I've been doing verbal gymnastics (making up song parodies, doing dopey voices, etc.) ever since I was a teenager

  16. Caleb G

    I won a writing competition in grade school. It was my first short story. I rested on those laurels for a while. I wrote mostly poetry through high school. Then I stopped writing for years. I picked it up again maybe 10 years ago. And stopped again. 🙁

    Now, for the past year, I've been into it. And I plan to continue for life.

  17. Cathy

    I'd have to say when I was a teenager, although there have been times since then when I haven't written much at all. I'm determined to change all that though.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Hi, I’m Nathan. I’m the author of How to Write a Novel and the Jacob Wonderbar series, which was published by Penguin. I used to be a literary agent at Curtis Brown Ltd. and I’m dedicated to helping authors chase their dreams. Let me help you with your book!

My blog has everything you need to know to write, edit, and publish a book. Can’t find what you need or want personalized help? Reach out.


I’m available for consultations, edits, query critiques, brainstorming, and more.



Need help with your query? Want to talk books? Check out the Nathan Bransford Forums!