I recently read an interview with an author/creative writing tutor where the journalist asked The Question That Must Not Be Asked – ‘Surely you can’t teach people how to write?’
The author was rightly (in my opinion) a little prickly in his answer, giving a curt, ‘of course you can’, response. Writing is just like any other craft, he said – you work at it, you improve… or you don’t and then perhaps maybe it just isn’t for you.
Yes – there are bad writers. And yes – you need to work at it to be good and to get better.
I know that for many, this is not News but, given the journalist in question bringing the matter up, it appears that maybe it is. Art is taught – people go to classes, learn it, practice it and improve. Music is the same, as is craft work, engineering, medicine, baking, designing… I could go on, but I think I’ve made my point.
Just because the majority of the population can pick up a pen and physically write – can log onto a computer and tap away at the keys, does not, I’m afraid, a writer make. Is this harsh? Well, maybe for some, but it is my belief that if you want to be a writer, you read a lot, you write a lot, you hone your CRAFT, you take advice, instruction – as you would with any other art form/career – and you make yourself good.
You go to classes – perhaps a creative writing course and you say to those who proclaim that writing can’t be taught, that you are learning the tools of your trade – what you create with those tools afterwards is where the creativity comes in – the actual art that is personal to you.
Writers have historically always come under a bit of flak, I think. It’s the profession which everybody thinks they can do and which most aren’t, therefore willing to put much proper time and effort into. ‘Sure anyone can write’, is a frequent proclamation. ‘I could have written better myself’, ‘I’ve a book in me somewhere – just waiting to get out…’
I think everyone should consider how lucky they are to have the potential to write and I think, perhaps, that if there’s a book in there – let it out. If you could have written it better – go ahead – try it. If you are that ‘anyone who can write ‘ – get stuck in. See what’s it like and put in some effort, but don’t pretend you won’t have to work at it or improve it along the way. We all do.
The best thing about writing is that yes – it is open to anyone at any time – so dive right in…