• “I Am a Writer!” Your Aha Moment

    Posted Posted by David Duhr in Inspiration     Comments 39 comments

    Discussion questions: Do you remember your “aha moment” as a writer? The moment where you realized, for the first time, or acknowledged to yourself for the first time, that you are a writer, and that writing will play a prominent role in your life? Or are you still waiting on it? Tell us about it below.


    In writing we talk often about “aha moments,” those times when we’re blessed with sudden insight about our work, usually in regards to a specific roadblock: a character’s motivations, say, or what should happen in the next scene.

    If you’re writing a mystery, for example, and you’re struggling to find a smooth and logical way for your protagonist solve the crime, and you’re getting really hung up on it, but then one night you’re sitting on the couch eating chicken wings and watching The Bachelor when out of nowhere the solution hits you like an ocean wave. That’s an aha moment.

    Merriam-Webster defines an “aha moment” as “a moment of sudden realization, inspiration, insight, recognition, or comprehension.”

    Inspiration and insight. Recognition. Comprehension. Realization.

    You know, nearly every aha moment a writer experiences comes after an original aha moment: That moment where you suddenly identify yourself as a writer.

    Maybe you’d dabbled in writing before, written a story or two just for fun, or goofed around with a memoir you intended to show only to family members, and even then only for a laugh.

    Maybe people had told you, growing up or as an adult, that you’re a really strong writer, and although you liked how that felt, you continued to consider writing to be a lark, a talent you possessed but felt no need to pursue or develop.

    Until one day, maybe sitting on the couch eating chicken wings, it hits you; your aha moment: I am a writer! 

    I am a writer and I want to pursue writing, and I want to develop my skills as a writer, and I want to work toward becoming a professional writer in some capacity, and/or toward publishing a book, or even multiple books.

    Because I am a writer.

    I want to hear about your aha moment. When and where and how did it happen? And how did it make you feel?

    And what happened next? Did you immediately begin writing, or did you sit with it for a while and let the idea gestate?

    And how did that moment change you?

    Let’s talk about it in the comments below.

    And then, if you haven’t already, tell us about your ideal writing space. Because every good aha moment deserves a proper setting.


    WriteByNight co-founder David Duhr is fiction editor at the Texas Observer and co-host of the Yak Babies podcast, and has written about books for the Dallas Morning News, Electric Literature, Publishing Perspectives, and others.

    WriteByNight is a writers’ service dedicated to helping you achieve your creative potential and literary goals. We work with writers of all experience levels working in all genres, nationwide and worldwide. If you have a 2019 writing project that you’d like a little help with, take a look at our book coachingprivate instruction and writer’s block counseling services. Join our mailing list and get a FREE writer’s diagnostic, “Common problems and SOLUTIONS for the struggling writer.”

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    Robert Mazarelli

    …I am a writer and I want to pursue writing, and I want to develop my skills as a writer, and I want to work toward becoming a professional writer … Yup, that’s me. But after having an essay published (in a minor publication), being under contract with a music publisher in Nashville, having self-published a collection of short stories (hard copy and e-book), and working on my second novel (50K plus words into it) I’ve not had my AHA Moment. Don’t get me wrong, I like the challenge, but for now I will admire the talent of others. Maybe… Read more »

    Robert Mazarelli

    Thanks David


    I had that aha moment back when I took a creative writing course in college. The instructor read one of my pieces and that of another student and said that we both had talent. Writing was fun for me then. Since then I’ve had some small successes but nothing big. I’m still at it years later, but I often get discouraged. I’ve tried a new genre but am not sure it’s me. I might go back to what I enjoyed writing even though it wasn’t selling. Maybe I should just write what I enjoy and to heck with selling, although… Read more »

    Robert Mazarelli

    You have the right attitude (about writing what you enjoy). Stick with it …


    Elizabeth, I write for the sheer enjoyment of putting words to paper. I write what I love and it comes naturally to me like a river flowing downstream. One AHA moment was when I couldn’t find the ending to one of my stories, I watched a movie and received the ending of my story which had nothing to do with the movie I was watching, but there it was. If I sell a book or not it doesn’t matter, mostly I give them away. Write for the pleasure of it and maybe in doing that you’ll find what’s missing in… Read more »

    Elissa Malcohn

    I was 14 years old and I had just received my very first rejection slip, from Galaxy magazine. I was *thrilled* because, to my mind, that rejection gave me my bona fides. Aside from school magazines, my first publication (in the small press) occurred when I was 18 and was also a paid prize. In the interim (and, of course, afterwards) I kept collecting rejection slips (some with encouraging handwritten notes), including for a novel I wrote when I was 15 and a second novel I wrote when I was 17. I grew up in Brooklyn, so the New York… Read more »

    david lemke

    Wow! I had the opposite reaction. I was 14, sent a piece into Fantasy and Science Fiction and received a rejection slip and was devastated, didn’t write again for years.

    Pat Rick

    My aha moment arrived shortly after midnight February 4, 2014. It was two years following the publication of The Abbey & Me: Renegades, Rednecks, Real Estate & Religion, my first book. Momentarily, I was to go on-air with the national radio show Coast-To-Coast and its host George Noory. Unsure if I could entertain a few million sleep deprived listeners, I was unexpectedly asked to go on for two hours, instead. George Noory gently led me down the path of a successful show. To sit down and talk about what you have written is a world of difference compared to writing… Read more »

    Pat Rick

    David, the following link will take you to the night I was a guest. I am unsure if there is a charge for listing to past shows. I can tell you that George Noory was most interested in the subject of exorcism. He tried to steer me to tell more. But, I did not want to provide details on the current book I am writing about that famous 1949 exorcism. Stay tuned!


    Barbara Mealer

    My aha moment came when I finished my 500k word tome. It had been fun to write the story. It may take a year of two more to get it published, but it was my realization I could do this. From that moment on, I’ve been writing and completing manuscripts. That’t not to say I don’t have a few I’ve pushed back into a corner of my computer, but most of then things I’ve started I’ve completed and are waiting for editing. When I published that first book, even though it only sold a few copies, I new this was… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    It took me three months (Aug to mid Oct) working every evening and on the weekends I didn’t work to write it and I was thrilled when I typed the last words. It was all I could do to wait to tell my writing group about it I was so excited the story was complete. I had written my first novel! (I didn’t pay attention to the word count until the end.) That was my first time of writing a non-fiction story. My hard work was validated when several friends who were writers read the first chapter and said the… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    Nope. I didn’t find it exhausting at all since I wanted to see where she would end up. (not totally where I expected.) The story was there in a rough form and all I had to do was write it, allowing the characters to tell me what they wanted to do. (Niels wouldn’t behave so I let him be bad.) The book seemed to flow without my doing a whole lot thinking about it as the different issue popped up and she was pulled in multiple directions. One of my tricks is: As I’m falling asleep, I take one of… Read more »

    david lemke

    My aha! I’m a writer! moment didn’t come until my first book was written. I just had another Aha moment; I’ve been waiting for something to trigger book 2 following Bad Fireplace until a few weeks ago when I realized that the dragon is a main viewpoint character and that she should start the novella.

    david lemke

    If I remember correctly, I was sipping 15 year old Belvenie single malt and thinking, ‘This proves it.’ It was more relief then anything else. It had taken so long. Now it sits in on Amazon’s Kindle list with no one reading it. Which is depressing but OK because, though I hate promotion and haven’t done any yet, I do plan on it.

    david lemke

    I have a book on book promotion to read, I have some sites to check out. Currently I’m waiting to get my computer back to finish photo-shopping the cover for “Bad Fireplace,” I figured out how to use my laptop as a teleprompter so I can post some YouTube videos (short stories etc.)

    John Liebling

    I am 60, will by 61 – May 24. My ah ha moment was five years ago; when I completed my first draft. Five drafts later, I am still perfecting and editing my manuscript.

    I am a member of Toastmasters and write 5-7 and 15-20 minute speeches. That is not the same.

    david lemke

    Toastmasters was great! When I was working on “Intrusion” I realized, when my book was sold, I’d have to do book signing and lectures and such, so I joined a club and both my wife and I worked on our speaking skills for a bunch of years
    Keep working on it. Five years is not that long for a first book.

    Barbara Mealer

    Let that book-child go! Like me, you don’t have forever for perfection…lol (I’m 69) Get started on that next book and enjoy the fun of having others read the first one.

    Marcia Drut-Davis

    Before I took your course in Florida, “How To Be a Better Writer”, I never really thought of myself as one. I took the course because I always wanted to share my experiences of choosing a childfree lifestyle but never felt it would be worthy of any book idea! After one assignment where we were asked to write about something we were passionate about, I was blown away with the response you gave it and the responses from the classmates. Even then… I didn’t think I was a “writer” but felt there was hope. That course, and the support I… Read more »

    adrienne leslie

    I had left teaching to write. 3 years later after my 1st novel was published through a grant, I was asked to speak at the Korean-American Parent Association of Greater NY. I said my name at the welcoming desk and waited while the greeter searched her list for me. She whispered to the coordinator,”She’s not on the teachers’ list.” The coordinator answered, “She’s not a teacher. That’s Adrienne Leslie, the writer.” The tiny voice inside me,that I had hushed for 3 years, proclaimed, “Yes. I’m Adrienne Leslie–the writer.”
    It was my ah-ha and whoo hoo moment:)

    Dana S. Frank

    Hi, David: This is a good question and a good topic, because it’s a true thing that happens. For me, it was at Barnes and Noble twenty years ago. I had three books to buy, and the young cashier woman, who became a friend and a writing partner, looked at the books, looked at me, and asked, “Are you a writer?” I waited a beat, because I had never been asked that before and I had never thought of myself as such, but hell, yeah, I was! And I was going to get to say it right then! So all… Read more »

    Dana S. Frank

    I have no memory of them at all, but I was reading a lot of short stories around that time, so probably a book or two of short stories, probably a good novel, that is, literary. Fiction for sure. The armful of books that a writer would be hungry to read and learn from and enjoy. I can feel that sensation of hugging them to my chest as mine, full of everything I wanted to know.

    Marcia Matthieu

    I knew I was a writer when I was very young. An avid reader from the git-go, I started writing poems in elementary school. My mother, proud of my “talent,” had a couple published in the local paper. Well, that did I; I was a writer. At age 13, I submitted a collection of poetry to a vanity press and received high praise – and a contract. My parents could not possibly afford to pay the fee to produce the book, so passed on the opportunity, much to my disappointment. In the ensuing years, busy with job, family and life… Read more »

    Hans De Léo

    Wow. You got me with this one. I started to post something about writing as something I do, not who I am. I’m sensitive to appropriating my identity from What I do and I don’t like labels. When I’m driving my car, I’m a driver. When I take a walk on a trail I’m a hiker. When I arrive at work I’m an engineer. We’re human beings not human doings after all. The problem is that a my s writing comes from who I am as a person more than most other things I do. I think the same would… Read more »

    Barbara Mealer

    I love your answer and totally get where you are coming from. I find that writing fits into my life to fulfill a passion I’ve had for making up stories. Yes, I’m a writer, but also a grandmother, teacher, nurse, friend, etc. I chose writing as my last ‘career’ as it was something I could do as I aged out of the workforce and fulfilled a dream I’d had since I was a teenager. (Yep, it makes 3 things on my bucket list done: riding a motorcycle, seeing the US and writing more than one novel. Next is a trip… Read more »

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