Why I Write: Michelle Townsend

There is no defining moment in my life whereby I decided that writing was for me. I was always at my most comfortable doing it.

When I started school, I was obsessed with learning how to read and write. Nothing gave me more joy as a young girl than English lessons where I could do both to my heart’s content.

Lucky for me, throughout my time in both primary and secondary school I had great teachers who constantly encouraged me to reach my full potential in English. Writing compositions for me was a release; I could be as imaginative or creative as I wished and this sense of freedom is what pushed me to keep doing it. I got good grades in school, but I was pretty much useless at the likes of science and maths. I was grateful for subjects such as English, history and religion because the one thing I didn’t dread and actually knew how to do well was write an essay.

When it came to choosing college courses in sixth year, I knew there was only one option for me – and that was journalism. If I couldn’t get the points for journalism, I told myself, I would 100% go for something media-related instead, so that’s pretty much what my CAO consisted of. I just knew it felt like the justifiably right thing to do.

I have been studying journalism in DCU since 2015 and I’m now in my final semester. Some people in college grow weary of the subject that they’re studying but not me – I’ve been lucky enough to have been given the opportunity to study something I’m completely passionate about. I remember being so nervous writing my first ever article for the college newspaper, fearful it wouldn’t be good enough – and now over two years later I’m a part of the editorial team and have been consistently writing for every issue.

I started writing for in September, at the start of my final year. Admittedly, I was at first just looking to expand my journalism portfolio but I sincerely enjoy contributing to the site every week. It’s a fantastic platform for me to publish my work on, and every week I look forward to seeing what type of content the sectional editors are looking for. I always find a pitch I can sink my teeth into and carry out good research on, which allows me to hone other journalistic skills apart from writing, too.

A massive influence in my life who always supported my writing was my grandad. He was such an important figure in my life, who was consistently supportive – not only of me, but of all his grandchildren. He was interested in the media and current affairs too, which is probably where my love of it stemmed from. He’d always tell me when he had the news on the television that I could be the next “Caitriona Perry” of RTE (who is one of my favourite journalists) and even though that sounds like a far off dream, maybe one day I can achieve it for him. And even if I don’t, I still know with each article I produce I’m making him proud, as well as my nanny and parents.

I mainly produce articles focused on topics relating to arts, entertainment and lifestyle, but I have an interest in current affairs and politics too. They say “write what you know”, which I have always firmly believed in and perhaps that is why I’ve been able to improve over the years. Having a knowledge of what I’m writing about in a certain article always shines through.

Even though I’ll be finishing up in college forever in April, I never want to stop writing – so it’s just as well I’ll be graduating from a course where I hopefully get the opportunity to do it for a living. Right now, I would ideally like to work in broadcast journalism, but even if I am lucky enough to find myself in that position, I never ever want to stop writing. It has been such a big part of my life for as long as I can remember and it holds far too much value now to stop.

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