The moment I first thought about being a writer

The moment I first thought about being a writer
Posted on November 16, 2023

How do readers grow into writers?

It’s a big question, with many parts, and it gnawed away at me for a while until I decided to do something about it.

Over on the Your Kid’s Next Read Substack today, you’ll find an epic post I wrote for our paid subscribers that attempts to answer that one big question.

Fortunately for me, nine of Australia’s best children’s authors were happy to take up the challenge to help me: Alice Pung, Nova Weetman, Tristan Bancks, Zanni Louise, Belinda Murrell, Jacqueline Harvey, Kristina Nannestad, Emily Gale, and Rebecca Lim.

Here’s a hint of the questions I asked them:

Was the love of reading there from the beginning or did it develop over time? Was there a particular book that inspired you to write? A particular person? Can you the moment you first thought about writing your own stories? What has been the key to developing your writing voice?

You’ll find the full post here.

And here’s a tiny insight. Click each author’s name to find out more about them – and where that first moment has taken them.

Can you remember the moment you first thought about or began writing your own stories, or was it something that crept up on you over time?



Alice Pung on writingAlice Pung: “In Grade 3, a substitute teacher named Mr Galloway said to me “Keep writing Elizabeth you’ll burn a hole through that page”.

It was the first time someone had recognised I was good at this, and even though he got my name wrong, I always remember that moment of recognition.”




Nova Weetman on writingNova Weetman: “I had an old black typewriter as a kid and I wrote Agatha Christie-style murder mysteries on it.

I only ever wrote the first few pages, because I was never very good at plotting.

By grade six I was fairly adamant that I’d pursue writing as an adult, and I wrote seriously all through high school.”




Tristan Bancks on writingTristan Bancks: “I remember being in school plays when I was 5, 6, 7 years old. And starting to write my own little skits that I’d perform with other kids at a thing called ’The Primary Proms’ which happened once a term.

“So, I started out writing with performance in mind.

“I have stories I wrote in my Anything Goes Book in fourth grade like ‘My Life as a Mars Bar’, which I share with kids when I visit schools. It’s must-read stuff.”



Zanni Louise on writingZanni Louise: “I always told stories for as long as I can remember. When my dad brought home a typewriter when I was five I wrote some of them up and shared them in a folder with friends and family. I even got a Principal’s sticker!

“I still have those stories. I used to always write plays for my cousins and brothers to perform at Christmas too.”




Belinda Murrell on writingBelinda Murrell: “I was about seven when I first started writing my own stories, poems, and plays. I remember this was a step on from imaginary games where I’d act out scenes from books I loved, or my own stories and daydreams.

“My early stories were filled with fairies, giants, witches, and lots of adventure.”




Jacqueline Harvey on writingJacqueline Harvey: “I wrote stories in high school but it was really at University that I thought I would love to become a children’s author.

“It took a long time to realise that dream but it was there ticking away for ages.”




Kristina Nannestad on writingKristina Nannestad: “The desire to write stories crept up on me. I was an avid letter writer from my late teens onwards – I loved making my recipient laugh – and I wonder if that’s where my love of writing began.

“I used to be a primary school teacher and sometimes I wrote a play or a little book when I could not find exactly what I wanted to use in the classroom.

“When I first became serious about writing stories for children, I tried to write picture books but my stories always grew too long and complicated. So here I am, writing novels.”



Emily Gale on writingEmily Gale: “I always wanted to but I could only ever write the beginnings of stories. That’s why I wrote a lot of poetry in my teens – it brought the satisfaction of finishing something. They were all little stories, of course, and they were my way of trying out different styles — I had no idea of how to find my own voice.

“But I didn’t write short stories or novels because I wouldn’t let myself go far enough into the woods — I didn’t want to get lost, or get the story “wrong”, so I’d just polish the opening to death, give up and start something new.

“I thought of myself as a writer but not a storyteller, and I had some strange hang-ups such as thinking that if I couldn’t magically write a novel, without taking lessons or even reading about how other people did it, then I wasn’t a proper writer.

“But having my first baby was the catalyst for change: I decided it was now or never and that I’d have to work out how to structure a story.”



Rebecca Lim on writingRebecca Lim: “I was seven, and coming up with these stories illustrated with wonky coloured pencil sketches all the time. Back then, you’re too young to think of it in terms of being a potential, actual job, but I just knew that I couldn’t stop writing stories.

“It was a compulsion, and still is.”




Nine authors on how they became writers


Read the full article here.


Are you a writer? Can you remember when you first thought about being a writer?


A. L. Tait The First Summer of Callie McGeeAre you new here? Welcome to my blog! I’m Allison Tait, aka A.L. Tait, and I’m the author of middle-grade series, The Mapmaker Chronicles, The Ateban Cipher, and the Maven & Reeve Mysteries. My latest novel THE FIRST SUMMER OF CALLIE McGEE is out now. You can find out more about me here, and more about my books here.

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