You Were Not Born a Writer

hemingwayYou were not born a writer. I hate to read other writer’s giving advice and making claims that writing is a talent you’re either born with or you aren’t. We are not musicians, who are generally born with their natural talent.

Yes, many writers have natural talent, but for the most part, writing is a learned skill. It often takes time and practice to hone this skill.

When I first started writing, I couldn’t form a coherent sentence. Of course that’s still questionable some days, but I’ve worked very hard to become a better writer. It’s something I work on each time I write.

I’ve seen many bloggers struggle with asking themselves if their work is worthy and beat themselves up over one little mistake. I know how this feels because I literally cringe when I find a mistake in my own work, but it happens. It doesn’t make me less of a writer because I make mistakes; it makes me more aware that I’m not perfect. None of us are perfect writers.

Writing well is a skill, but like all skills, it can be learned. Writing is also like a muscle. If you don’t take care of your muscles and work them out pretty regular, they begin to atrophy. Writing is the same way, if you aren’t working out the writing muscle it will suffer.

One of the biggest mistakes any writer can ever make is comparing themselves to another writer. We each write with a different style, and we are each on a different level of the learning curve. If you feel you’re struggling as a writer; practice. Write more. Write all day. Write as many words as you possibly can and when you think you’ve improved just a bit, write some more.

Improve Your Writing Skills

• Stop editing while you work and start writing.

• Allow yourself to write something totally crappy.

• Allow yourself to use off-the-wall words or big fancy words.

• Study the craft of writing.

• Stop comparing yourself to someone else. You are unique, as a person and as a writer.

• Invest in reference materials. Don’t use the Internet for all your reference work. Invest in real books and use them. Learn to enjoy the feel of those books in your hands.

• Take notes or use a highlighter in those reference books. It really is okay to write in the books you own. I struggle with this too, but the book police will not take you away; well unless you do this to books in the store.

The following is one of my favorite quotes and inspirations:

“I write one page of masterpiece to ninety one pages of shit,”
Hemingway confided to F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1934.
“I try to put the shit in the wastebasket.”

Now we all know Hemingway is considered one of the masters of all time. But he clearly admits to throwing most of his material out. It wasn’t up to his standards. He worked to improve it constantly, just as writers of today must work on their skills to improve them.

You were not born a writer, but with consistent practice, you can become one of the masters, just like Hemingway.

Image credit: NYPL Digital Gallery
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13 Comments

  1. Kathryn Lang July 20, 2009
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