I wanted to be a writer or a journalist for as long as I can remember. I also wanted to be a ballet teacher but that was short-lived. Although I loved ballet, I wasn’t much good at it!
When I write I feel clearer, sharper, smarter, wiser. I write to reflect and think. When I speak, I’m prone to losing track of my thoughts, the threads of conversation. Writing helps me compensate for my weaknesses and enhances my strengths.
In many ways, print journalism provided the perfect apprenticeship for me. It allowed me to ask questions rather than speak, to capture in shorthand the words of interview subjects as they spoke. Later, in the ‘quiet’ of the newsroom, I’d spend time working out what was actually said. When the story became ‘mine’ as I shaped and crafted it, I came to understand it. Then I could tell it clearly, persuasively and with insight. And in a newsroom I learned to write faster, under pressure, to deadlines and word counts – and most critically, for readers.
Later as a ‘mature age’ university student I further refined my writing skills, studying fiction, poetry and script-writing, literature, international politics and public relations. It took me 10 years and three universities to complete an undergraduate degree, eventually graduating with a BA in Professional Writing. Along the way I wrote a novel – not published but lovingly finessed nonetheless, and teaching me even more about the craft of writing. At uni, I also learned to construct a persuasive argument, to research and probe more deeply. And I became aware of the political and cultural shape of the world, and my place in it.
All of this experience and daily use of my skills has enhanced my ability to create meaningful communications in both my personal and professional life. I like to use these skills to open dialogue with others, to tell stories, and to find common ground through the written word. Words have power.
I’m glad social media has come along. Used “for good not evil”, it provides us all with more opportunities to connect, learn from each other and explore new possibilities. While it’s true that anyone can write, those of us who have spent our lives working with words are well equipped to ride the wave of change.
Through my work and in my personal life I consciously try and share only positive stories and messages. There’s enough negativity in the world without adding fuel to it. Working for the YMCA, which is overflowing with positivity and opportunities to connect people to each other, their families and their wider community – is a perfect fit for me.
Why do you write, and what do you like to write about?