Are Writers Born or Made?

Hello, SEers. Mae here with you today. Recently, I’ve been thinking about stories I wrote when I was younger. Much, much younger. It made me realize how long I’ve been creating characters and worlds—with zero breaks in between.

Toddler age girl with long blonde hair at a typewriterThe first story I wrote happened when I was six. It was for a class assignment, but it makes me wonder if I hadn’t been fashioning stories in my head before that. Certainly, I never stopped writing afterward—ever. Sometimes people will take a break for a number of years, but for me writing has been a constant, ongoing, never-ending passion from childhood.

At six-years-old, I don’t think I set out to be a writer. It just happened. As I grew older, I fed the desire and followed the path, venturing deeper, pruning obstacles, and setting a concrete goal—that of published author. It’s been an uphill journey, filled with plenty of potholes, but I’ve covered a lot of ground.

Some writers discover their passion later in life. I’ve heard of authors coming to love story-craft in high school, others because of a class they took in college, still others decided to take up writing after retirement. There is no wrong time to embrace writing, but it makes me wonder—are writers born or made?

Let me explain: are we born with the desire to write and that desire lies dormant in our consciousness until something switches it on? If that’s the case, the trigger could happen at any point in life—early childhood, college years, mid-life, retirement. A different trigger for different people.

Nora Roberts started writing when she was a young mother. She had time when her kids were sleeping and wanted to fill the void. She thought it would be a good way to make extra money and was fortunate enough to land a publishing contract. The rest is history.

Some might say Nora started writing as a matter of circumstance (writer made), but it’s possible the trigger for her surfaced because of circumstance (writer born). If I’m a stay-at-home mom, there are other avenues I could take besides writing to fill the hours.

Concept image of a Calendar with the text: Write a Book in red inkWhy not painting, reading, cooking, or crafts? And if the end result was income, there were other means of working from home. Granted, when Nora was first published, the options were limited, but there were other options. Writing is not easy as we all know. How many people just wake up one day and decide to write a book?

I once worked with a woman who was an accomplished violinist. Her husband played too, and they would often duet together. I thought they were both excellent, but she told me her husband had limitations because he was a mechanical player. He knew all the movements and how to coax notes from his instrument, but he didn’t feel the music.

Writers are the same. There are nuts and bolts to our craft, but the passion for writing—whether born or made—is what drives us.

Think about your own path to writing. When did you start? More importantly, why did you start? Did you always have the desire to write, or did that desire appear because of specific circumstances? Do you think people are born with the desire to write, or life circumstance shapes that desire in them? Perhaps a bit of both?

I’d love to get your take in the comments below. Ready, set, go!

bio box for author, Mae Clair







71 thoughts on “Are Writers Born or Made?

  1. Pingback: Author Inspiration and This Week’s Writing Links – Staci Troilo

  2. Despite having a father that was a really good artist, well, I just can’t draw or paint. But I like stories. I like telling them. I like taking something mundane, and making it really rock. I guess I just can’t think of a better way of telling the people I’ve known, the things I’ve been part of, and making them last forever.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, William. We share something in common. My father was an artist as well but I didn’t inherit that gene. He “dabbled” in words and that was the trait I glommed onto.

      Stories are the best, aren’t they? Fleshing them out, crafting them, telling them, and as you said, making them rock. It’s a great way of making something “last forever.”

      Thanks for adding to the discussion!


  3. I started writing at a young age as well. My friend, Barb, and I used to write mysteries and ghost stories about the house beside my Grandmother’s. We always thought it was haunted. Soon we learned that her parents bought the haunted house. That lead to different stories. You just never know.

    As for math, well, I am lucky in that regard. I am quick and understand it quite well. When it comes to geography… let’s just say that is a story in itself. Some day I should tell you about the detour I took from Indiana and ended up in Altoona. Let’s just say that was the total wrong direction. But that has led to some good story fodder.

    I would say writer are born and cultivated. You need both. Just my humble opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Michele, whee I was a kid, there was a house two doors down from where I lived that everyone in the neighborhood (well, the kids), thought was haunted. We moved from that place when I was seven, but my friends and I created a slew of ghost stories about the house, mostly in our heads. Talk about creative fodder, LOL! Kids are just so imaginative, and apparently you and your friend, Barb, were too 🙂

      Math and I aren’t friends. Never have been, LOL. Kudos to you for that. I’m much better at navigating and understanding directions, but I wouldn’t want to bet money on the outcome. The Indiana to Altoona detour definitely sounds like a story! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Mae, this offers much reflection. Writing poetry brought me to a place where I felt more alive than ever before. It’s a guiding force, for which I’m most grateful. When I reflect back I know, with complete certainty, that writing my first poem ignited the light that guided me home. How amazing to feel such harmony of mind, body, and soul. Cheers to that! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Such a fascinating topic. The second I finish my response I’m going to see what others have to say.

    I could feel things when I wrote, even when I was little. I knew everything about the people I created and I think that is why I knew what I would someday become. My biggest problem was focusing. It wasn’t until I became a father that my mind shifted and my priorities changed.

    I can’t speak for everybody but I do feel there is a foundation of this creativity inside of us at our early beginnings. For some it cracks, for other it strengthens. But it’s there’ It will always be there.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Bryan. Some of your thoughts tie in perfectly with a companion piece to this post I have scheduled for early July–that spark or foundation of creativity that is there from our earliest moments. Focus can be difficult, especially in our younger years. I do believe, no matter where our paths may lead, that if we are meant to be writers that drive will always be there. It may just lay dormant until we’re ready to embrace it.

      I glad you found today’s topic fascinating. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Dang good question Mae. I think I must have been born to write. Like you, I started young, and since then, have always been playing with words and stories on paper or in my head). I was part writer / part illustrator in my younger years, but gave away the drawing because I just wasn’t good enough. I feel I was born to write because sometimes the words build up inside me and I have to put them down (or else I might explode)… surely that only comes from being born of it!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Absolutely, Jess! I think creating stories is like a drug for writers. We have to give into the need or we go through withdrawal pangs. And when all those words and ideas build up inside they’re even harder to ignore.

      I think it’s very cool you enjoyed illustrating, too. Clearly, your creative side was demanding attention, LOL!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Writing didn’t cross my mind until after I had my two girls and I couldn’t get back into teaching. I was frustrated, and my husband signed me up for a continuing education class–Writing For Fun and Profit. My teacher thought an article I wrote was good enough to submit to Byline magazine, so I did, and it sold. I told my husband, “Writing’s easy!” Ha! Little did I know, but I was hooked by then.

    Liked by 3 people

    • This is so cool, Judi. I love that you didn’t feel the pull until later in life (a trigger moment). My guess is that the desire/passion was always there but it took the trigger moment to bring it out. And look at all you’ve accomplished since. Kudos to your teacher for (and your husband) for giving you the needed push!

      Liked by 2 people

  8. I wrote my first story at around age twelve. It was written in pencil in the columns of old newspapers. I wrote that story for a damaged little girl named Jenny. She lived with the rest of us street kids in a rusted out shipping container. I can’t remember exactly why I decided to write a story for her, and uneducated as I was the spelling was totally atrocious. I wanted and needed to reach her somehow. Jenny couldn’t bear to be touched, she spoke rarely and her eyes were always wary and afraid. I wrote the story of the beautiful Princess Jenny, a Jenny that slew dragons and was beloved of her family. A Jenny in total control of her own destiny. It made our Jenny smile. Jenny wanted more. I knew then that one day I would write. That day didn’t come until I was in my fifties, when life finally gave me the courage to share my words with others. I’m free when I write, unshackled by uncertainty. I learned and am still learning my tradecraft. However, I believe that for me at least I couldn’t choose to do anything else that would fulfill me so completely.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Soooz, this is an absolutely beautiful story. I remember Jenny very well from your books and think it’s amazing that your first endeavor in writing was a result of your love for her. She was clearly a very special little girl who touched your heart, and does to this day. I am so glad that you find fulfillment in writing. It’s clear your dear Jenny contributed to that gift!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Jenny taught me so very much. Watching her grow and witnessing her transition from a frightened child into a loving adult enriched my life beyond measure. I still miss her.

        Liked by 2 people

  9. I think writing is inside some people. I always loved to read and when I was a pre-teen and young teen I loved writing descriptive passages and poetry. In high school I started writing a novel which I still have. I went to university and studied for 7 years. I then did my articles and started building my career, then it was my babies and I didn’t have time for writing. When Michael was nine I went back to work full time and started writing publications for work. That excited me and I loved the research. That is how I got into the idea of writing.

    Liked by 3 people

    • I agree with you that writing lives inside. Sometimes it takes a while to come out as a full-fledged passion, but if that desire is there, eventually it has to catch up with you—as it did for you. You followed a natural progression, Robbie, of many people who go through life experiences but never lose the desire to write. And I agree that research is awesome. I often wish I had a job doing nothing but research!

      Liked by 2 people

  10. I agree with Staci’s comment. I believe we are all born to be creators. We are fulfilled through creating! I’ve always written in some form or another. My first endeavor was a song when I was around 8. But, beyond that, I was a most avid reader! I read everything I could get my hands on from the time I could decipher the words. So, for me, I think it was a progression. I started writing books because I had a true story to tell. Now, I enjoy the inspirations I get to create fiction. I don’t see any way to stop and I don’t want to stop. Writing fulfills that need in me to create! Thanks for such a thought-provoking post, Mae!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Jan, it doesn’t surprise me that you were drawn to music at such a young age, combining a passion for both music and words. And reading! I think there’s nothing better for feeding the imagination then discovering new places, people, and amazing stories in books. It’s wonderful that you’ve followed a natural progression and have embraced creativity that was there all along!

      Liked by 2 people

  11. I have to agree, Mae that writers are a bit of both. You need the mechanics down and you have to feel it. Putting both together makes a really good story and writer. My mind was always busy creating, I had no choice but to write it all down! I always loved doing reports and stories in school. Mine wasn’t a continous line, but always there. Great post!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I was one of those people who loved doing reports in school too, Denise–especially book reports! 🙂
      Writing is definitely a combination of mechanics and passion. I think most of us have the passion first, and learn the mechanics later.
      It sounds like you always had an active imagination as well!

      Liked by 2 people

  12. I tried to write while I was working but it didn’t pan out. I waited until I could devote full time to the task. My first book was published after I turned 71. (I worked until I was 70) I still felt as if I wanted to write since I was in my twenties. Life always got in the way. Well, let’s be honest. I allowed life to get in the way. I’m glad I’m doing it now is all I can say.Good post, Mae

    Liked by 2 people

  13. I’m the odd man out. Creative endeavors were crushed in boys where I grew up. We were supposed to be sensible and work oriented. People would question your masculinity if you wanted to make music or anything that didn’t involve being tough and earning a paycheck. I dabbled a bit when the first computers came out, the ones with dual floppy disks. After moving to Idaho, I read a lot. I had a hard time finding the kind of stories I wanted to read. (Which should have told me about the limited market for them.) I decided if I wanted books like that I’d have to write them myself.

    Liked by 3 people

    • How sad that creative endeavors were crushed in your area during childhood. I’m glad you still carried that spark inside you and eventually gave it rein. Writing the kind of story YOU want to read is a great motivator for writing. A world without root monsters would be horrible indeed! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  14. I think we’re all born to be what we are, creative or analytical. Santa brought me a typewriter when I was five years old. My passion and talent for storytelling came early and was nurtured by family, friends, and teachers. (I was lucky in that regard.) My husband and son are math geniuses. I’ve seen my husband calculate a car payment in his head (to the cent) before the salesman can type the numbers into a calculator. My son taught his math teacher a few things because he can just “see” how the numbers work. (I do NOT have these abilities.) The three of us are (or will be) comfortable in our vocations because we pursued (are pursuing) our interests. My daughter is creative like me, but her interests lie in the business world. She’s doing great in school, but I fear in the long run, she won’t be happy because she neglected a gift. Then again, she wants to open a tennis school (and tennis is one of her gifts), so maybe I just need to trust she knows what she’s doing.

    In any event, I think we’re born with predilections. It’s up to us to cultivate them.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Your thoughts tie in nicely with a post I have coming in July, especially the nurturing aspect. You also made great points about creative or analytical (and kudos to your hubby and son for having the gift of math. Numbers and I do NOT get along, LOL).

      Within the last week or so I’ve done some routine household tasks the hard way and my husband has come along and said “why don’t you do this?” which makes it/them a lot easier. Stuff I should have seen before, that many people would, but I’ve come to the conclusion my mind doesn’t work that way. I just don’t see the mechanical end of things.

      Regarding your daughter, I bet she finds way to employ her creative gifts in the business world.I know I have! 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • My brain and numbers don’t mix, either. And I’ve had the same experience with tasks as you. Hubby and I often struggle to work together because we approach things from totally different ways. Given he’s a lean manufacturing expert, I should probably defer to his experience, but I never do. (And then I wonder why everything is so hard.)

        Liked by 2 people

      • I’m glad I’m not the only one who looks at things differently. Sometimes I feel like I should do a palm/forehead—why didn’t I see that?–but my brain isn’t wired that way. I’ve said hubs and I are polar opposites, he’s grounded, mechanical and practical. I’m an idealist, dreamer, and creative. It makes a good but interesting match, LOL!

        Liked by 2 people

  15. My high school English teacher told me I had a gift at story-telling, but I didn’t think about it until I neared retirement. Raising a family and working full-time kept me busy with the details of life. I guess old age has some benefits. 😀

    Liked by 2 people

  16. I believe I was born to be a writer, but it wasn’t until age ten that I realized it. Waited too many years to do anything about it. But even before I began to scribble things down, I had a vivid imagination and would “act out” stories. Although I believe I was born with the desire, I did have to develop my skills (and I’m ever learning as I go forward).

    Interesting about the violinist. I recall an episode of MASH (you know me, LOL) where Charles was trying to help a concert pianist who lost the use of his hand. Charles talked about his own piano playing. “I can play the notes, but I can’t make the music.” Having taken four years of piano lessons, I knew exactly what he meant. I could play notes, but the music didn’t come naturally to me. Goes to say the same thing could apply to writers.

    Liked by 2 people

    • A vivid imagination is a must for a writer! I love that you used yours to act out stories before you starting setting pen to paper. I did a lot of that myself. I still remember bits of something involving a volcano and another with silver horses, LOL.

      That episode of MASH is exactly what my co-worker was trying to explain. Her husband was a brilliant mechanical player, but making music breathe/soar/live was something entirely different. I have known a few nuts-and-bolt writers in my day (only a handful), but that parallel does exist. I think for most of us, the passion is what drove us to embrace what we do in the first place. And you’re right—it’s a constant learning curve!

      Liked by 2 people

  17. I started when I was about 6, but was talked out of continuing since my math skills were lacking. Got back into it at 14/15. So, I think it’s tough to answer the question. Some people are born with the desire and get benched. Others are allowed to go on. I’ve met authors who felt like it was a thing that everyone does, so they took courses. Seems the answer differs by person like in many arenas. You’ll always have those born to do it and those who forged themselves into an author.

    Liked by 2 people

    • My math skills were lacking too, Charles. They probably still are, LOL. Numbers make me shudder but I love words.

      I do believe that some people are born with an inherent talent but that it can be benched–or nurture (That ties into a post I have coming in early July).

      I also think if the drive to write is consuming, sooner or later, it has to resurface, as it did with you when you were in your mid teens. Clearly, it wasn’t going to leave you alone until you embraced your skill. I do think others can forge themselves into an author, but that takes me back to the music reference I used in the post. Is the passion there, or is that a matter of learning nuts and bolts?

      I love things that make me think!

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I was definitely born a writer. From being old enough to hold a crayon, I was writing, lol. Unfortunately, life events and circumstances stalled that early passion, and it took me until age 40 to actually get writing again and get published. That flame never died out entirely, but I would say it was on a far back-burner. As to your question, … chicken and egg comes to mind! For sure, I seen writers who never would have put pen to paper if not for an experience they needed to write about. But then, of course, plenty of folks go through stuff and never think to make it into a book. Good question! Thanks, Mae. Reblogged this on:

    Liked by 1 person

    • I actually thought about the chicken and egg when I was writing this post, LOL!

      Like Charles, I think your passion for writing would not leave you alone. It was just a matter of when it surfaced again, but you were destined to embrace the creativity you were born with. I, too, have encountered a few writers who embraced writing because of a life experience they wanted to share. I’m wired for fiction and keeping my life OUT of books, but there is a lot to gained from others who have faced obstacles and challenges and choose to share those. It’s great there are so many types of writers and so many types of books!

      Thanks for the reblog, Harmony!

      Liked by 1 person

    • I am the same way, Jaye. There are so many things I love to do–reading, research, learning a new language, mind puzzles and games, and of course, writing. There just isn’t enough time to do all of them, or do them well. Honestly, there are times all I want to do is read, but that only lasts for a day or two, because writing won’t leave me alone. When it comes to writing, I’ve never really had a choice. If I don’t embrace the “scribe” in me, I’m miserable. It’s always been that way since I was a child, so writing becomes a priority, and I squeeze in the rest where I have time!

      Liked by 2 people

      • It’s true, I do. And then I look forward to the days when I’m retired and may not have to do so much squeezing. In the meantime, I embrace when I can.

        And when the crunch is really bad, I’m often reminded of a old Twilight Zone episode about a man who lived for books and nothing else. But he needed glasses to read. When the world imploded, he was the sole survivor—along with tons and tons of books. Pure Nirvana. And then he stepped on his glasses and shattered the lenses. For some reason, the memory of that episode helps me deal a little better with “the squeeze.” 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  19. I think we are all born with imagination, some more than others, but are we all story tellers? I think so. the best moments for parents and grandparents are probably when little children are playing quietly by themselves, peace… and it’s good to leave them alone, don’t disturb, look and listen. They are making up stories, plastic people and cars are given voices and the child is in his own little world.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Boy did that comment bring back memories. I could make up stories from just about anything I put my hands on. That’s a child’s imagination at work for you. I have a companion piece to this post scheduled for early July and being born with imagination is one of the things it addresses. It’s so crucial to encouragethose quiet play times children have.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 2 people

  20. Pingback: Are Writers Born or Made? — Story Empire – yazım'yazgısı (typography)

We'd love to know what you think. Comment below.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.