Changing priorities as a writer – what happens when you don’t want to write that book?

The academic year is coming to a close meaning I’m drawing ever closer to the end of my second year at University. It’s been a very odd year with all my classes being online, but I’ve been very busy and growing so much.

I started my degree wanting to write novels, it came to no surprise to anyone who knew me. It’s been a childhood dream of mine, and I’ve been writing for so many years. I knew it would be possible to achieve this dream, I just had to work hard for it.

The dream was to one day become a full-time author and by the end of my first year I had my first book outlined, the plot was sorted and all I needed was to write it. I was excited, but also tired. I put it down to the global pandemic, I’d had to leave University very fast, the UK got put into lockdown and life changed overnight.

I tried to get excited during lockdown, trying to convince myself that this was an amazing time to sit down and write this book. I couldn’t go anywhere, I wasn’t at University with my friends to distract me, shops were closed too, same with events. In my mind this was the perfect time to write.

But I didn’t want to write the book and before I knew it, it was September, I was back at University.

As part of my degree, I’ve taken modules on writing children’s fiction, the novel, poetry and creative non-fiction. So much of my degree was revolved around becoming a full-time author one day. But I came to realise a few months ago that I’m not all that interested in writing a novel at this point in my life.

It started when I took a journalism module in my first year… I hated it (the lecturer was awesome, and the classes were too, but becoming a journalist didn’t sit right with me at all) and I swore I’d never take journalism again. However, I took it again in my second year and I’ve just chosen it again for my third year. As much as becoming a journalist didn’t sit right with me, I was enjoying the professional side of writing.

All my life writing was just about books, I never knew there was another side to it. But University introduced me to journalism, editing, proofreading and the role of a copywriter.

It was copywriting that caught my eye. It was like a puzzle but in writing form, the perfect combination of creativity and business (something I had studied at college). So, I went on work experience and tried out this new and shiny career in the real world and fell in love with it even more.

This caused a bit of an identity crisis as a writer. Suddenly I wasn’t spending my evenings working on my book, I was studying on writing copy and how to advertise and use social media. But that’s not what writers do, writers are meant to pour all their free time into the novel in progress, right?

Finally, I made peace with my growth as a writer, I’d came to accept that I’d changed, and my priorities had shifted. I wasn’t going to be writing a novel any time soon, I still want to don’t get me wrong, but it’s not for this chapter of my life.

Whilst this was going on I was falling back in love with poetry. I was reading it more and, more importantly, writing it more. It became my creative outlet, my stress buster, and a way to express myself. My mind began to daydream about writing a chapbook and one day a whole poetry collection. Sure, there’s not a lot of money in it, but it would be a labour of love. As more of my assignments were submitted and more poems were created, I felt a new aim forming.

One day I’ll write a novel, and have it published, one day I’ll do that. But right now, I’m taking a new path as a writer. My degree is in creative and professional writing and for a long time I’ve only seen the creative side as my long-term goal. But I’ve learned there’s nothing wrong with wanting to get a job in copywriting, in marketing. Sure, it’s not as glamorous as being able to say I write books for a living, but it’s a job and one I enjoy.

So that’s what I’m going to do for now, learn industry standards and go down the professional writing route. In my spare time (and hopefully for my dissertation) I’ll work on getting that poetry collection sorted. Who knows what my final year of University will bring me, maybe I’ll end up finishing that book, maybe I’ll discover something new, who knows?

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