Many Paths to Writing Success

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Each of us has a different path.

The other night I was on the phone with my cousin. He wants to write a self-help book. He wanted to know two things. Where should he start and what credentials does he need? Given the type of book he wants to write, he has all the credentials that he needs. He’s lived it. But he doesn’t have a background in writing. 

I assured him that he could learn to write. Why? Because, like me, he’s always loved stories. 

I loved stories even before I could read. My father, also a committed reader, discovered early on that he and I were in competition for the National Geographic magazine. I poured over the photographs, taking in the exotic animals and places. I wanted to know all about the people that I saw.  

When we traveled as a family, we either went to southern Missouri or West Texas. In both locations, I would find a seat near the men and listen to their stories. Why the men? They were the ones telling stories. In West Texas, my cousin and I would listen to their stories. We’d take in the details of flood and fire and mountain rescues. As teens, our paths diverged. 

 I went to university to study anthropology and archaeology. This was my chance to dive into other worlds and I loved it. But the survey archaeology program where I worked closed soon after I graduated. I found another university job to have access to the tuition waiver it offered. By the time I earned my final degree, I knew I wanted to write.  

Why am I telling you this? Because this was my path. It looked different from the other writers I knew. As a children’s writer, I am surrounded by teachers and librarians. If these were the only paths to writing for children, I’d have made no progress. But I found my own way, writing about the horses I loved as a child and using my academic background. 

My cousin’s path has been very different from mine, but that’s okay. He’s looking at a different destination. After high school he went into the military.  He just finished college.  He’s going to have to learn to write but he’s determined and that’s a big part of the journey. Add to this that he’s got the storyteller’s gift and the desire to reach out and help others and I know he’ll be able to write an engaging book. 

Sure, it will take time. He’ll have to learn about the craft. He’ll have to decide how to shape and mold the book he wants to write. His path will be different from mine. It will be different from the paths of other self-help authors. 

What do you want to write? Where are you on your writing journey? Don’t lose the way comparing your path to that of other writers. We each have our own story to tell and we’ll each reach it via a different route. 


Sue Bradford Edwards' is the author of over 50 books for young readers.  
  • To find out more about her writing, visit her site and blog, One Writer's Journey.  
  • Click here to find her newsletter.

She is also the instructor for 3 WOW classes which begin again on June 3, 2024. She teaches:


Angela Mackintosh said...

So true, Sue! We all have our own paths. My dad also subscribed to National Geographic, and to many other publications I loved like Analog, a sci-fi magazine. He read classic literature to me. I loved writing in school, but pursued an art degree. Then I realized art/painting wasn't enough because it didn't allow me to tell a complete story, so I started using words. My dad was such an avid reader all the way up until he died, and I owe it all to him.

That's so great your cousin wants to write a book! I encourage everyone I meet to write and share their stories. :)

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