Can Anyone Really Write?

I feel like this is a very fair question.

Where does writing fall in the list of talents, gifts, skills, abilities?  Is it, like some people seem to think, something that ‘anyone’ can do?  If you have an idea, or something interesting happens to you, can you write a book?  Is it just that simple?

I’m probably going to sound like a self-absorbed asshat for this, but no, I don’t think just anyone can write.  There are reasons that publishers every day have to go through Slush Piles, and it isn’t just because the market ‘isn’t right’ or your book ‘isn’t right for them’.  The fact is, maybe your storytelling skills just aren’t up to par–and that should be okay.

Let’s think about this a second.  I mean, if I tell people that I’m majoring in English Writing, their response shouldn’t be some kind of sympathetic smile or a feeling that I’m somehow trying to get through life shirking off.  I don’t know where society gets the idea that writing is just some kind of hobby, or that as something ‘anyone’ can do, it can’t be a legitimate career.  That’s just not true at all.

For a long time I wanted to be an actress.  I was OK at acting in general, but I didn’t have that spark, that ability to become someone else, or the genes to be a real actress.  I could have spent years trying, and maybe I could have gotten somewhere, but it wasn’t what I was meant to do.  Or an Olympic Ice Skater.  (This was another passing thought.)  I took ice skating lessons, I had the frilly outfit, I had the dreams of grandeur.  However, I didn’t have the right build, and I didn’t have the drive.  I could have trained for years, really thrown myself into it, and who knows?  Maybe I would have been a halfway-decent skater.  But an Olympic one?  Never.  It just wasn’t meant to be.

I feel like writing is the same way.  Sure just about anyone can put pen to paper or fingers to a keyboard and write some words into a string of sentences.  You do it all the time for school, or work, or just to tell your pals about your day.  But that isn’t writing, is it?  Not in the way I think of writing, or the way some people are meant to be writers.

You can work hard at learning to write better.  You can learn grammar, read a hundred million other books, take workshop classes and hire an editor, but the fact remains that if you don’t, in your gut, know what it takes to make a good story, you’ll never get anywhere.

I’m not telling you to give up on your dreams of writing a book–far from it!  I’m just trying to say that it isn’t for everyone.  You have to want it like anything else in life–with your whole heart and soul, and with a lot of luck and hard work involved.  Even then, you just may not be a writer.

And that is OK.

Just don’t go around thinking that writers aren’t as talented as the people you’re seeing at the Olympics or at the movie theater or inventing drugs or writing computer codes.  We all have different gifts to share.

Celeste

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5 thoughts on “Can Anyone Really Write?

  1. I agree that writing, for whatever reason, is definitely a thing not everyone has. It’s something I run into a lot while perusing self-published efforts—usually I can tell by paragraph one that they just don’t have enough of a handle on how to write prose to be worth my time. Maybe I’m judging too harshly, and there are certainly audiences that don’t care as much as I do, but I think that gut sense of whether words are good or not is definitely a gift that can’t be taught, unless it’s by lots and lots of reading during one’s formative years. You may be interested in this post with a similar message to yours: http://ayeshaschroeder.com/2012/07/31/you-could-write-a-book/

    • Yes! Thanks for the link–that’s it exactly! (She probably said it more eloquently than I did, but I digress.) I agree. While you get some good stuff with self-publishing, you also have to dig for it through a lot of half-baked efforts. I wouldn’t say you’re judging more harshly than anyone else. 🙂 And maybe the key to writing IS a lot of reading–with that added spark. I know my mom read to me a ton when I was younger, which obviously caught on, ha ha!

      • Yeah, good writing isn’t a skill you can pin on any one thing, or even on anything, but I do find that one thing a lot of us have in common is that we were read to when we we were children.

  2. So many people are writing these days because its easy now, with all the technologies and stuff where we can simply type in what ever we think will make us look like writers. In the old days, using the very exhausting type writer, books were better, because no one writes unless he or she really believe in what they write, because its a real tiresome process.
    But still, there’s hope, people should read more, and be more patient if they want to write something meaningful, and save what could be a best idea instead of wasting it with bad literature.

    Sorry for the long comment, couldn’t resist sharing a piece of my mind.

    • No, thank you! 🙂 I completely agree. Like anything, writing that is worth doing is worth doing well and working hard at. There are so many more options for people to write and publish now that we’re inundated with ‘writers’ who aren’t encouraged to work as hard at writing or editing as they would have been trying to get published back in the day.
      Thanks for sharing! ^^

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