It’s hard to pinpoint where I’d be without my creativity. If I couldn’t escape into my own world when the real one was insufferable, I’d be lost. At times it can feel that outsiders are mercilessly repressing what’s on the inside. “Most writers die poor and alone.” “You’ll never make it as an actor.” “Your band is the same as everyone else’s.”
We’ve heard these statements countless times; we’re encouraged to choose something more practical. But these creative outlets are more than just hobbies: they define who we are. For me, it’s being a writer.
My identity as a writer comes down to purpose. Someone can enjoy writing but not identify as a writer – in the same way someone can enjoy cooking but not identify as a chef. I don’t just enjoy writing. I live and breathe my creations.
I imagine new situations for these characters even after I’ve finished writing about them. They allow me to explore different identities – for example, imagining what it’s like to be someone in recovery from a traumatic experience, or someone with a dream different to my own.
As I’ve grown up, if I hadn’t been able to explore the lives of my fictional characters, I wouldn’t be the same person I am now. I created my most complex character when I was seven years old. Harry grew up with me, and his story evolved as I discovered more about the world.
Harry began as a happy-go-lucky success story with perfect relationships. However, as time went on, a more intricate, darker back story was to unravel. He became jealous and paranoid. He doubted his worth and felt the weight of other people’s expectations. The pressures of Harry’s life started to resonate with the pressures I was experiencing, and his personal struggles echoed my sometimes rocky relationships with friends and family.
I was able to develop Harry’s character through research on mental health, including how certain situations can affect the mind. With this, I have learnt a lot about the ways of the world, why people do what they do, the hardships that people face and how to overcome them.
My identity as a writer, to some extent, also comes from how others perceive my work. I have published stories online and had feedback from readers around the world. Praise for my writing is great – but nothing beats the feeling when a stranger comments on how they see themselves in something I’ve created.
Becoming a successful writer is tough, and those negative voices dissuading me will probably continue. I’m not deluded: I know not every aspiring creator can make it professionally. I know that having a dream by itself isn’t enough. When mastering a craft, you get as much out of it as you put in.
Experiment with your work; don’t settle for the first thing that comes to mind. To hone your skills, you should know what works best for you. For example, I could have settled with my original first person style of writing. But I soon realised I could delve deeper into my worlds by writing in the third person instead.
Perseverance and dedication helps to transform a dream into a reality; success won’t just appear on a silver platter ready for the taking. The creative industries are hugely competitive. To succeed, your creations need value, and that can only come from pouring every bit of yourself into them. For me, finding myself as a creator means finding myself as a person.
My dream is for my work to be enjoyed and understood by others, and I have no intention of giving up.
It’s my responsibility to ensure I do everything in my power to make my work the best it can be. After all, I am a writer. It’s my identity.
This article appears in issue 122 of Exposure magazine – an identity special funded by John Lyon’s Charity