Are writers born or are they created? That is something that I have always wondered when admiring my pile of books to read and writing up my book reviews. How does a writer become an Author?
This month’s Inspiring Parent is Melissa Addey, who is an Author and Entrepreneur. After her family grew, she decided that she was to commit to being a full-time author. This evolution of her career is fascinating; let’s find out more!
Talk me through your career. What was your motivation?
I have always loved reading and developed a love of writing over the years. I spent 15 years in business, first working on new products and packaging for Sainsbury’s, then mentoring over 500 entrepreneurs as part of a government funding scheme to focus on innovation and growing small businesses.
Once I had my second child I realised going back to work didn’t make much financial success so I decided to stay at home and make the jump to being a full-time author. In my first year I self-published two books, then the next year (2016) I was the Writer in Residence at the British Library and published four books. Right now I’m doing a three year PhD at the University of Surrey, for which I got full funding, which is utterly wonderful and I’m loving it. I’m writing two historical novels simultaneously (my historical eras are going to get muddled!). I really believe in writing being a job and enjoying both the writing and the business side.
What was the catalyst for your change?
Having children focused me on what I really wanted to do next and I realised the years I would ‘have’ to stay at home could actually be my moment to change careers. In my years of mentoring, I saw so many women make their change at this moment and go on to become entrepreneurs. I think it makes you realise what you really want to do and that you want to have freedom in your life to be your own boss AND a mum.
So, are writers born or created?
Both? My 15 years in business gave me a good business head (I hope!) and made me see it as part of the fun. My Masters in Creativity really helped me see business as something interesting and creative. Lots of small classes/courses in creative writing and lots of reading/practice. I’m now doing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Surrey and it’s fascinating, I don’t want it to end! But what really makes you a better writer is writing a lot: the first novel I ever wrote now looks very clunky to me: I think it needs some work on it before I publish it!
What existing skills have you used from your old career to now?
Mentoring entrepreneurs for more than six years really rubbed off on me: they gave me a can-do attitude and the focus to just go for what I really wanted to do. Also, the time spent on innovation and creative work during all my years in business – seeing that business is also creative, it’s not writing = creative and business = boring, embrace both.
What has been your greatest challenge? How have you overcome it?
Kids: I have very little time to do my writing (but see the answer to next question): so I have to prioritise like mad when I do get a bit of time and I really go for whatever I can get done in that time. Even a few minutes will do: I wrote a book on breastfeeding whilst breastfeeding: with one hand making small notes and then when I got 5 mins to myself, typing it up. It’s amazing what you can get done while breastfeeding!
What has surprised you?
How much more writing I got done AFTER having kids – before I used to do a bit here and there like it was a hobby. Once I took it seriously and crammed every tiny spare minute with my writing, a lot more got done and a lot of doors opened. I think having kids focuses you on what you really love to do because there isn’t time to do anything else!
What advice would you give budding writers?
Treat writing like a job. It’s not a magical thing where you have to wait for the muse. Work on it like a job and the magic will happen!
That’s got me inspired to work on a couple of book ideas I have! What about you?
Come on over to The Balance Collective with Clara Wilcox, where, every Wednesday, we share our writing with the group!