Not the average 9 to 5 working as a writer

By Lauren Sedgley

At the age of seventeen, not a lot of teenagers know what they want to do for the rest of their life. At this age they are constantly being pressured to make decisions; do I go to university, do I get an apprenticeship, what other options are there, if I go to university, what on earth am I going to study. For Callen Martin, his epiphany came just at the right time and he knew what his calling in life was, to be a writer. However, this wasn’t always the dream.

“Before, my initial life goals were to be a vet, then it was a social worker because of my childhood and then I really got into reading, which was my gateway and I didn’t realise but I was subconsciously looking for a character similar to what I grew up in, I wasn’t to see a depiction of that life and that childhood and it wasn’t happening and I was devouring book after book and then I realised that actually I had all the skills and everything to be able to create that and create what I wanted.”

Martin spent the majority of his childhood in foster care and this was his reason in wanting to become a writer.


Callen Martin working on his novel from home

“I want to be a writer because books, literature and reading did so much for me growing up, like so much, that I want to give back and if I can do for one child reading a future work of mine what many authors did for me the it would be brilliant,” Martin explained.

For Martin, he knew he wanted to go down the degree route as he explains how he flounders if there isn’t a routine or structure to his life so he knew that was going to be his only option. Whilst at university he knew that he would have a tutor and would always be receiving feedback on his work and would always be learning and growing whist at the same time being surrounded by like-minded people.

“It can be really isolated but it’s encouraging to be around like-minded people.”

Martin studies at Bath Spa University, he studied his undergraduate degree there and he is now studying for his Masters degree in Writing for Young People. There is also the other element of studying his degree, which is networking. Networking is important because Martin explains how it allows him to meet with agents and other writers which all becomes of use when he is working towards publishing his first novel.

“When it actually comes down to writing, everyday is different and there are days where I won’t write, and that’s not a bad thing because even if I can’t write on that day I should at least spend some time with my novel during that day.

“I do try to set myself a daily goal of no less than 750 words, I used to try and write around 2000 words a day and that was unrealistic, normally when I get to 750 I’m in the swing of it or I’m in the middle of a paragraph and I’ll just carry on but there have been times when I’ve crawled to 750.”

There is so much that goes into writing a novel and there is no right or wrong way to do it. Martin expressed how important it is to understand what time you write best and where you write best. Everyone will have an ideal writing day, he says, but sometimes it just doesn’t work out.

“I first of all, you need to find out if you’re an early bird of night owl, I can’t stress enough how important it is if your writing time is at night how much you are going to struggle if you’re trying to write in the morning, my writing time happens to be 4am till 7:30am, which can be very inconvenient, and that’s not just saying that I can’t write at any other time of the day, that’s just when it comes out naturally.”


Editing individual chapters 

Before you start writing you need to have a brief idea of what you want your novel will be about and it is important to expect that inspiration and ideas can come from anywhere.

“Write ideas down because future you can be inspired by past you, and inspiration can come from your own life too, I outright discounted using any person experiences within my writing, it was too intense and I didn’t want to deal with that but then the MA asked us to write about a childhood memory and I didn’t want to do that, so its important to be open minded and just let it come to you.”

As a writer you have control over everything in your book so it is important not to neglect any idea for one reason or another and when I was talking with Callen Martin he was very clear that anyone could write a novel. You don’t have to be degree educated or to have even excelled in school. If you have an idea and you are able to develop that and get your ideas down on paper and write is so that anyone would be able understand, then what’s not to say you could try and get that published.

By all means it isn’t easy to get a novel published, the publishing can be the hardest part, but the moral of the story is that if it is something you enjoy then what is there to stop you.


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