How Writers Are Born

Who can say what makes a writer? Some will tell of a lifelong dream to write. I didn’t. I had a lifelong dream to read. I’ve always loved stories. I remember going to the library with my mom to get Beatrix Potter books. I loved Peter Rabbit. What a magical world; rabbits who lived like humans and wore cute little clothes. And they could talk. Although early in life I never considered writing, during my moments of daydreaming, I often thought that the perfect job would be as a writer’s assistant. Aspiring to be the actual writer was so far above me, I didn’t even consider it. Now that I’m a writer, I know that a writer’s assistant would NOT be a dream job. I had seriously romanticized it. Writing, and therefore assisting a writer, is a tough job.

But life doesn’t always follow our plans, and somewhere along the line, a spark struck. I thought, “I could write a book like this.” I don’t remember what I was reading at the time, but it was during an obsessive reading jaunt that this light bulb went off in my head. It really had nothing to do with my life experiences or a specific job, because I haven’t done anything that I felt qualified me to be a writer. I hadn’t had any grand adventures like Hemingway.

But I think there is something inside writers that is there from the moment they’re born, an instinct for telling stories, whether they’ve been aware of it since childhood, or whether it’s lain dormant and sneaked up on them after age 40, as it did me. And whether they’ve traveled the world and lived grand experiences or been a homemaker busy shuffling kids back and forth from school to sports events, writers are all equal in this arena. We’re storytellers.

My question for writers is, when did you realize writing was in your blood? If you are a reader only, have you ever wanted to write?

Embrace the Highland Warrior by Anita Clenney—In Stores November 2011

They were driven apart by a timeless secret…

Cody MacBain let the woman of his destiny slip away. A member of an ancient clan of Scottish warriors, he grew up beside Shay Logan as her secret protector, but his heart compelled him to become more. Until Shay’s true identity was revealed, and the fated pair’s chance was gone…

But danger will drive them back into each other’s arms…

Shay fell for the boy next door, suspecting nothing of the ancient secrets he guarded. After a stinging betrayal, she’s determined to banish the memories of her first love forever. But the past can’t let go, and the boy she once loved has returned to her a warrior determined to protect her from the unspeakable evil fate has planned…

Anita Clenney grew up an avid reader, devouring Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books before moving on to mysteries and romance. After working as a secretary, a Realtor, teacher’s assistant, booking agent for Aztec Fire Dancers, and a brief stint in a pickle factory (picture Lucy and Ethel–lasted half a day)…she realized she’d missed the fork in the road that led to her destiny. Now she spends her days writing mysteries and paranormal romantic suspense about Secret Warriors, Ancient Evil and Destined Love. Anita lives in suburban Virginia, outside Washington DC, with her husband and two kids.

You can find out more about Anita and her books at:

Sourcebooks will give away 2 copies of Embrace the Highland Warrior. 2 winners, US and Canada only. Please leave a comment with your email address.


  1. I am a reader and sometimes I would love to write but I and many others I am sure grew up with people telling you that you are not good enough. Leaves am impression and a fear to try because you may fail.

  2. I am a reader and I would dearly love to write, but I am utterly intimidated by all of the detail and connections necessary for a book. I don’t know that I have it in me to do it. I’m great among my friends with witty one liners, but I don’t know that that particular talent would be of much use in writing anything more than a book of Knock Knock jokes lol. I definitely respect all of the time and effort that authors put into their work.

  3. Im a reader.. and every once in awhile i wish i had the desire to write.. i have ideas..just no ultimate burning desire in me to put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to write creatively..

    alainala AT hotmail DOT ca

  4. Debby, that’s unfortunate. If you have a dream, you should at least try. that’s what I did. This doesn’t mean that everyone who wants to write will succeed, but you won’t know if you don’t try. I’m glad my family was so supportive. They probably didn’t expect that I would really sell, but they gave me that support. Without it, I might not have sold. Jot down some stories and don’t tell anyone, see how it goes.

  5. The Happy Booker, it does take a lot of time. It’s like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle with multiple layers, but in addition to the hard work, it’s fun. I suggest that if you really want to write, just jot down ideas and add to the story as it comes. You don’t even have to show anyone. You might find you love writing and that your story sounds pretty good, or you might discover that you hate writing and want to stick to reading. You won’t know if you don’t try.

  6. Alainala, hello again. 🙂 It does take a big commitment if you want to succeed. If you don’t have a real drive, then honestly you might be saving yourself some headaches if you don’t. But if you really have that desire, then give it a try. If I had said no to that urge, I wouldn’t be a writer now. And it happened pretty quickly for me.

  7. Hi Anita,

    Great post. I always knew I WANTED to be a writer. I talked about it for years. Jessica Fletcher on Murder She Wrote made life as an author appear adventurous and glamourous. Forget that we never actually saw her write. If I were involved in that many real life mysteries, I’d never have time to get the fictional ones on paper. Same thing with Castle.

    But it was my weekly editorial for an in-house marketing magazine at Warner Bros. that taught me I had a voice. I knew my audience and felt comfortable enough to show myself. The response was remarkable! And that’s when I decided to take action on my goal to write mysteries. I’m so happy I did. It only takes one step to put a dream into action.

  8. I’m a reader and I have considered writing but never seriously. Lately I have been brainstorming quite a bit and I do like to try new things and challenge myself.


  9. Rochelle, I loved Murder She Wrote and thinking back, I wonder if that didn’t plant a seed in my mind that I didn’t even realize at the time.

    Your comment brings to mind when I was a secretary. I took notes for sales meetings, very unofficial notes and I added in fun things. I remember several people telling me that they so looked forward to my notes because they were so entertaining. Maybe that was my birth as a writer.

  10. Rochelle, I’ll also add how important it is to be brave enough to take that first step. I could have easily talked myself out of trying.

  11. Na, it’s funny how the smallest decisions can so change your life. I remember getting that first thought that I could write a book, then the indecision and doubts, and finally deciding if I didn’t try I wouldn’t know. I just hit the NY Times and USA Today bestseller lists with my FIRST book. Imagine if I’d said, “no, I don’t think I’ll try.” That’s frightening to me and makes me think of all the lost opportunities in my life.

  12. An English teacher put me in the mind of writing. I was a troubled kid and once wrote an assignment that she posted on the school library “Best of the Week” board. It gave me a direction, somewhere that I could do something right! I loved that teacher for giving me some self esteem at a time when I could have gone so wrong. Because of her, I have tried very hard to see the good in kids, and help them find their own direction.

  13. Jinny, kudos to your teacher for helping you onto the right track. If only we could all realize how much our actions, our decisions, affect others.

  14. I knew I wanted to write when my fourth-grade teacher told me she loved to read my stories. But I didn’t know I wanted to become a writer until after my mother died. I dreamed of a story for kids.

    Speaking of kids, have you ever thought about writing a children’s book?


  15. Congratulations again on EMBRACE, Anita! I was born a writer and voracious reader. I transformed my living room into a library, and I fill up sheets of paper as rapidly as most folks fill their garbage cans (I refuse to discuss similarity of content). However, writing with the desire of publication came late because I was always busy working to pay the bills. And unless one is savvy, talented, smart, AND lucky, writing is rarely a money-making proposition.

  16. I can’t wait to find time to dig into this story. I loved the first one, so I know I will love this one, too.

    And no, I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. It wasn’t until I took a creative writing class that I got the bug.

    Great post, Anita.

  17. Marilyn, I did think of writing a children’s book, but I’m so busy now, I don’t know when I would have time. I have a cozy mystery series on the backburner. There are so many different stories I’d like to write.

  18. Wow, VR, I’d love to see your living room. You’re so right, it’s hard to make enough money to pay the bills. I think we do this out of love for writing.

  19. Thanks, Liz. I didn’t know until late. I think it was the intensive reading I had been doing and the threat of going back to work that planted the idea in my head.

  20. I’m a reader who has considered writing at times, but seeing how much work goes into a story beyond just putting words down on paper, I haven’t got the patience to do so much work. I’m content to enjoy the fruits of other’s labor.

    Barbed1951 at aol dot com

  21. I am a reader and yes I would love to write but I always seem to get stuck with the beginning. I have great ideas for how I want the story to progress and what the characters should be feeling but it’s the first chapter that always ends up kicking me in the guts and I end up frustrated and throw it out and then maybe six months later, I pull it out and then don’t like it and throw it out. Which is why I’m content to be a reader:)


  22. Im a reader .I eraly enjoyed this post and excerpt .This is a must read for me

  23. I did start a book once, although I have no idea what happened to the few chapters I had finished. They were on one of those ancient 5 inch floppy discs that computers used back in the mid 80’s. Even if I found them, I’m not sure I could get the file off & do anything with it. Since reading it today would probably make me cringe, maybe losing it was a good thing.

    drainbamaged.gyzmo at

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