About Nicolas and the NLWA

The Beginning: A Passion Discovered

I considered myself an author when a poem I wrote was published into a book when I was 16.

I remember holding this national poetry book in my hands and it clicking in my head that writing was the career for me. At that time, I was about to be a junior in high school. I had already written numerous poems, several short stories, and one screenplay. But at the moment I held that book, I knew I was going to do something tremendous as an writer.

Before I finished high school, I wrote two screenplays called “Jungle” and “Madhouse”. My grandmother discovered a critic who lived in my hometown of Bakersfield, California. I was able to send “Madhouse” to her and although she didn’t like it very much, she was very constructive with her criticism and gave me advice on how to write better.

After I graduated from high school, I returned to Bakersfield to attend college and eventually met with the critic. During our talk, she told me about a writing group that met at on Saturdays at the local Barnes and Noble. I started to regularly attend the group’s writing meetings. I was around 19 years old learning from men who were in their 50s and 60s. It was here that I gained and absorbed all of the knowledge and expertise that I know and cherish today. 

I attended the group meetings until my senior year of college. After I graduated from California State University Bakersfield, I moved to San Diego, California. Despite the knowledge I had, I was floundering for a while. I looked for work while writing and trying to create a job. Eventually, I landed a job as a substitute teacher.

Part 2: A Spark Reignited

A year into my time as a substitute teacher, I taught for a middle school in El Cajon, California. I was assigned to a class that was a hybrid of English and History. There was an assignment where students needed to write a paper about a famous person and build something based on that person. Some students felt like the assignment was difficult but I seemed to understand it and I made the mistake of saying that it is easy.

Some of the students in the back said “If it is so easy, why don’t you do it?” I could’ve told them no because it was their assignment but I took it as a challenge with some of them saying I wouldn’t do it. After school, I wrote and created a 14-page picture book. It took three hours to do and mostly wrote about how to get through middle school because it wasn’t that long ago that I was in their position. 

The next day, I gave copies of the book to the students and they were impressed. They encouraged me to write a book like the one I made. As I stated, I had been floundering with work and although I was trying to write, I was starting to give up on being a writer. But with the encouragement of that class and others around me, two months later, I wrote a book similar to the one I wrote for the students called “The Way of Amazing.”

I began to write stories again and regain the skills that I lost. I researched writing techniques and developed new ones as I trained myself to become a better writer. And it all started from a class of rowdy students who dared me to do their assignment.

Part 3: My Failure, My Purpose, and My Troubles

I continued to be a substitute teacher for around two years. I loved begin a teacher and I enjoyed the job. However, I felt intense pressure to get a teaching credential from my family. When I decided that I would, I tried my best. However, I was unable to pass a crucial test that I needed to do.

I felt awful that I wouldn’t be able to do it and I left teaching. It was just me failing my tests and the pressure from my family but the job no longer felt fun and I let the disrespect from numerous people get to me. I began getting anxiety about going to work and after a while, I wasn’t in the right place in my head and felt that I needed to quit.

After I quit, I decided that I would dedicate myself to making this idea of a helpful resource or online school for writers work. It was out of idea and pure desperation that the Next Level Writing Academy was born. I wrote down ideas that I had from every skill that I had gained over the years and started making courses for the academy.

Not only that but I was inspired by people that I met, specifically in bars. When I would go out with friends, people would ask me what I do and I would say that I am writer. People would tell me “I wish I could do that” and I would ask them why they couldn’t. They would give out a ton of reasons why and overtime, I began to understand that writing was very complicated to people and that many wouldn’t know where to start.

Initially, I would think of their reasons as excuses and I thought of Al Snow’s quote “If you want something bad enough, you’ll find a way and if you don’t, you will find an excuse.” But I thought that “it isn’t that they have an excuse, it is that they don’t have something that could help them get through their problems and get them to where they want to be.” 

It was there, in those bars and talking to people, that I discovered my purpose for what I want in life and need to do. However, the creation and development of my academy was a problematic journey. I did many odd jobs at various hours. I bought courses from gurus and experts vaguely showing me how to do different things before I had a clear path of what to do. I bought filming and audio equipment and constructed websites and email lists that didn’t do much. There was three years of trial and error but the one constant in my head was the belief I can make this dream work.

Part 4: Finding my path and the Present

It wasn’t until 2021 that I truly discovered the right path that I needed to go to make the Next Level Writing Academy work. I decided that I didn’t want to endure anymore trial and error. I needed to win and be a success. I began speaking to the professionals who gave me the direction and instructions that I needed. I spoke with a publishing company that helped me tremendously in thinking of how to get an audience and praised me for the content I produced. I reset my website to build up the academy to how it should be and began making the right strides towards not only making this work but helping the people that I truly aim to help.

Today, the Next Level Writing Academy is still a new and blossoming company. However, the goal is to constantly evolve with helping people and giving them incentives to keep writing such as writing contests, the ability to creating their own articles, and the online writing courses. Eventually, there will be more such as a podcast, a book writing competition where I and members of the academy will create a book together, a YouTube Channel for writers, a newsletter, and so much more.

If you made it this far, I thank you for reading about my life and my academy. I hope you understand more about this and about me and why I created the Next Level Writing Academy. I hope you enjoy it, whether it be the articles, the contests, or courses, and achieve the success you want as a writer.


Nicolas Smith, founder of the Next Level Writing Academy