Am I There Yet? My Lifelong Journey to Be a Writer

Am I There Yet? My Lifelong Journey to Be a Writer

My name is Taryn, and for the next five minutes (or however long Hashnode tells you this article will take to read), I’ll be regaling you with the story of how I’ve tried and failed to be a writer. Multiple times.

In the beginning...

It all began in a small town in Southern Ontario. I was never a huge reader as a kid, but I loved making up stories. I’ve been writing them down for as long as I can remember. As a kid I kept a diary and wrote poetry in little hardcover notebooks I bought from the Dollar Store. As an adolescent I graduated to the computer and used to pour out my deepest, darkest thoughts on my GeoCities website (cringe) and later on a LiveJournal blog (double cringe). As you can imagine, these early attempts at being a writer didn’t reward much in the way of an audience but they did provide me with my earliest introduction to writing online.

Adventures in grad school

After university, I decided to go to grad school and that’s when I learned how to write like an academic. Words like ‘discourse’ and ‘postmodernism’ entered my vocabulary and the length of my sentences became much, much longer. Sure, I may have sounded smart, but somewhere during the decade I was in grad school, I lost my personal writing style. That was a huge blow to my confidence and my motivation. Eventually, I started staring at a blank document for hours, or I’d write and rewrite the same line so many times it lost all meaning. When I emerged, jaded and dissertation-less, from the cocoon of academia into the real world, I made it my personal mission to reclaim my identity as a writer.

Parenting + Writing = Disaster

That brings us to the third phase of my journey. A few years back, I started having kids. And as anyone who has kids knows, this is like setting off a grenade in the middle of your life. All of the motivation I’d had to finally ‘make it’ as a paid writer dried up overnight. I was doing some freelance writing at the time, but I knew I couldn’t hack it for the long-term. So I put those dreams on the back burner. Only recently have I begun to dust them off again and think that maybe I could do this writing thing again.

Learning to code has been a big part of that. For a long, long time I struggled to decide what to write about. I’d always been drawn to the concise, factual nature of technical writing, but I didn’t know enough about any one thing to make that my niche (I’ve always been more of a generalist). But now, I have lots of ideas and I’m looking forward to translating my newfound love of code into articles that will inspire others to learn!

And now, because who doesn’t like pictures, I’m going to end this post with a few of the places where I’ve tried to be a writer over the years. Maybe you can relate to the stop and start nature of my journey. Enjoy!

algonquinpark.jpg Algonquin Park, where I composed melodramatic poetry as a teen.

kitchen table.jpg The IKEA table in my tiny kitchen in my tiny condo where I lived for most of my twenties.

archive.jpg The archive where I copied out and tried to interpret the tiny handwriting of seventeenth-century Frenchmen.

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My favourite local café. What wannabe writer hasn't munched on a salad or guzzled coffee while trying to write the next great American (or in my case, Canadian) novel?

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My current desk setup. This is my headquarters for coding, marshaling my two small children and on a good day, writing.

Now it's your turn. Tell me-- do you consider yourself a writer? How did you get started writing and how's it going so far?

Interested in reading more such articles from Taryn McMillan?

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