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writing careerWhy write? Writers are asked this question at least once in their lives. Some say it isn’t a choice.

“Becoming” a writer is an arbitrary cosmic metamorphosis. How many flowers does one need to make a bouquet? How tall a sapling before it’s a tree? For writers, what defines a career? Deciding to write, getting paid for your words, getting published? How many poems must one write or publish before they are considered a poet? Becoming something else happens when you don’t notice it happening.

With that said, The L.A. Times Festival of Books just surveyed 200 writers. More than half of those surveyed make their living from writing, and 95% have published books. The survey found that the majority of writers choose their careers young:

Most authors made their career choice early —
the average age was 16.

My earliest memory of being told I should focus on writing was in the fourth grade. My teacher told me I should be a writer. In the fifth grade–the same thing. (And I was one of 2 students to get a perfect score on the state writing test that year!) Sixth grade – same thing! That year my teacher took one of my poems and sent it to a contest without telling me and I won First Prize.

One thing I am happy my kindergarten teacher did was she asked us what our favorite activity was and what we wanted to be when we grew up. Upon graduating high school she would mail out these Q&As to the seniors. Of course, we don’t recall even doing this, but the little time capsule is interesting. My answers: Computers and artist. 

Are you part of the majority? Do you remember deciding young?