What I'd Tell My Younger Self About Writing

Growing up, like many people, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I just thought, hey, I’ll go to college and everything will work out. That’s what my parents told me, anyway. So I did, and things sort of did. I partied a lot, studied a bit, and made some great friends. Graduated. Then came the real world. Ugh. A failed stint in financial planning. Retail banking — disgruntled customers and high-pressure sales. Shove the loans down their throat if you have to…

It was terrible.

I fired off hundreds of resumes and couldn’t land another job, so it was back to college. This time for accounting. Sexy, I know, but practical…and I’d always have a job. The next ten years? Straight working my ass off. Auditing, the CPA exam, taking companies public, promotions and opportunity. Corporate America, baby!

And through it all, I had this vague sense that something was off. It kept pecking at me, this notion that I’d missed…something. What that something was, I wasn’t quite sure, but I knew it was important. Then, one socked-in, rainy Sunday morning in my late twenties, it finally revealed itself with the slightest of thoughts.

Hey, why don’t you write something?

So I did, and — Bam! — I was hooked just like that. I dove in head first with no clue what I was doing. I thought my writing was spectacular, of course. I thought it was the SHIT! Well, I was right about that; the shit part, anyways.

Man, I wasted so much time. I spent five years slogging through a flaming wreck of a novel — a hot, steaming pile of unsalvageable first draft. (I know, I know, it wasn’t a waste of time. No writing is.) True enough. But I wish — I wish — the ME back then would have had a chance to chat with the ME now. My writing would have been so much better off, but hey, I am where I am, and that’s okay…as long as I keep writing.

With that in mind, I thought it might be helpful to jot down a few things about writing I would tell my younger self (or any writer for that matter) if I had the chance. Hopefully, you can apply one or two of these to your own writing:

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Caleb Stephens