Why You Should Write Your Story
WHEN I launched my autobiography recently, my aim was to inspire and educate. And, I am
pleased to say the feedback has been more than I would have ever expected.
The inspiration for me to write my story was after the 2011 riots that tore through parts of
Britain. During the aftermath of the devastating events, many heated debates ensued in
Government on how ‘broken Britain’ had produced a culture of gangs, knife and gun crime, and
disaffected youth, all of which was supposedly the product of bad parenting, broken families,
lack of family values, few strong models, alcohol, drugs and strained relations between the
police and young people.
Many of the issues raised rang a bell with me – in fact, I was able to relate to every one of them.
I had spent many years suffering with mental health issues after the break-up of my parents,
leading to alcohol dependency, youth custody, prisons and psychiatric hospitals. But although
many wrote me off, I did eventually turn it on its head though writing and education.
I hope my story of crime, carrying knives and alcohol abuse, will help deter some young people
from falling into the same self- destructive trap as I did, which ruins so many lives. I do talk
openly and frankly about my childhood, schooling and short army career, leading up to my first
convictions at 20, for two attempted robberies, resulting in a 30 month youth custody sentence. I
talk about how I then spent the rest of my early adult years drifting aimlessly, but also
committing relatively petty, mostly impulsive and occasionally violent crimes, such as criminal
damage and assaults.
My aimless existence included several periods in psychiatric hospitals for clinical depression
where I was once sectioned under the mental health act. Then in July 1995, I was sentenced to a
five-year prison sentence on a wounding charge. I had massive social and personality issues to
address and was later diagnosed with having borderline personality disorder. Then while sitting
in my cell, I found through writing down my entire thoughts and feelings, I could unravel my
issues through putting pen to paper which became an outpouring of emotion.
I then realised I had a flare for writing, so using an old typewriter my family had brought to the
prison for me, I started submitting articles to magazines from my cell which has led to a career in
writing. While in prison, I also signed up for a social sciences foundation course through the
Open University which was quite a leap, because I left school with no qualifications whatsoever,
so when I passed, I was delighted.
Seven years after going to prison, I was graduating from Teesside University with a bachelor’s
degree in criminology, then Two years later, a master’s degree in social research methods.
My book has three main objectives:
1. Firstly, because ordinary people can relate to ordinary people’s lives, I am hoping it will
go some way towards helping others who may also suffer from mental health issues as I
2. I am also hoping I can show young people how much crime can ruin their lives by
showing them the lifetime of struggles and torment I have had to endure as a result of my
thoughtless actions, which started when I was a youth.
3. It’s aimed at students and practitioners of criminology and other disciplines, to use as a
textbook to further their understanding of a person’s criminal and anti-social behaviour.
Apart from the book writing, I am now a columnist for UNLOCK, the National Organization of
Reformed Offenders, and tour the country (England) giving talks to University students.
One thing that has become obvious to me since launching my book is that you don’t have to be a
famous person to write your story. Everyone has a story to tell and in many cases, it could help
touch lives, inspire and raise awareness.
Anyone who feels that they want to write their own story but doesn’t think anyone would be
interested, I would suggest they think again. Ordinary people relate better to other ordinary
people’s lives and it may help others in ways you’d never dreamed possible.
You can finish reading this article on our website about Writing a Story.