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Monday, 12 March 2012

Anyone can be a writer!

...Or at least that's what a lot of the 'How To' books would have you believe. 
I read in the blurb of one such book that 'anyone who can write a letter can write a Novel.' But after looking at the ever-increasing pile of rejection notifications and  'one star' reviews I think most wannabe writers could be forgiven for being little sceptical of this advice.

Writing is a craft, and crafts can be learned and mastered. So in one real sense anyone could become a writer, that isn't a lie. But I don't think it necessarily means that anyone who can compose a decent letter can write a Novel. It's like saying anyone who can drive a car could become a top formula 1 racing driver. Maybe in theory they could, but unless they have the drive, not to mention nerves of steel, they won't get far in practice...

...And to become good at writing you do need to put in a lot of practice. Not forgetting about that drive, determination, courage, and most of all sheer bloody-mindedness, not to mention a healthy imagination and disregard for pesky reality - so I won't.
 The craft is learning the tricks that help you put the words together in the right way so as to form a readable story. But good writing skills alone don't make a good story. That's where that active imagination kicks in. And when you finally hone your masterpiece to perfection you have to put it out to a ruthless and unfair industry, which will probably promptly return it with a bog-standard 'Thanks, but no thanks' letter. Even worse when you finally get something, anything, published you then start to read the reviews...
Someone loved it, you swell with pride... someone loathed it and said bad things... you feel fit to burst with anger... But that's only the first few times, after that you just shrug ether way and carry on writing.

And I think that's the thing than makes a writer. You need the will, no the urge, to carry on regardless. I think there are many writers who have never been published in any form who are simple people who want and need to write. You will come across people who refer to themselves as 'published authors' and that's ok. I can see why some see it as a form of validation or verification of their ability, a sort of prize for all the effort. Of course the big names are well beyond referring to themselves as 'published,' and the beginners, or those who have never been graced by the publishers, don't want to refer to themselves a 'writer' for fear of the dreaded questions 'What have you written? Anything I've heard of?'

So to sum up I'd say no, not anybody can become a writer. Not because of some innate ability, or the lack there of, but simply because those who want to write will write, regardless of the rewards or lack there of. And anyone who simply sees writing, especially fictional Novel writing, as a means to an ends has a very hard uphill struggle. Because, as well as becoming technically good enough, they have to provide the imagination, a lot of time and hard work, and then battle their way through a saturated and antiquated industry. Who would choose that if they weren’t already pre-wired to write?

Now I'm not an expert, I'm on the bottom rung and am likely to stay there or there about, for the foreseeable future if not the rest of my life. I don't know if I have the talent to go further. Then again who does? Talent often seems to be bestowed upon people as much as anything else. But I have read the stories of those lucky few that have made it, and for someone wishing to follow in their footsteps some biographies make grim reading.

But, hay... That's just me. Do you still believe the hype? Do you think anyone can become a writer?


  1. No, not everyone can become a writer. You've hit just about every argument I've used. Most people don't write to tell stories, they write because they think they can get rich and they think it's an easy cash cow.

    It isn't.

    Good luck with your writing!

    1. I agree. Having a grammar license does not a storyteller make! :D

  2. Hi there, just popping in from Goodreads... You have a great blog :)

    I'm your newest follower!

    Here is my blog to check out: Book Enslaved