Can writing be taught?Sure, but what most people mean by the question is, can anyone write to a professional level? One
newspaper colleague of mine insisted that it was something you were born with or you weren’t. I think the desire to immerse yourself in writing might spring from a quirk of genetics, but after that it’s up to you.
Certainly, anyone’s writing can be improved. Eliminate excess adverbs and don’t strain a metaphor until it breaks and you’re off to a good start. I’ve taught a couple of writing classes now and I suspect that writing skill is self-selecting anyway. If you aren’t interested in writing to begin with — as it is with anything — you probably won’t improve much. The best training in writing I got was first to read extensively early on. In my childhood home, books were a big deal and they still are now that I’m supposed to be a grown-up. Toward the end of journalism school, I think the best training I got in writing was to write copiously for a daily newspaper with feedback from editors.
There are a ton of books on writing advice and I’m sure I’ve read just about all of them. Reading about writing is often less about learning something new (there’s not really that much new to say about craft, is there?) as it is confirming my thoughts, feelings and biases. Sometimes a unique idea will rise out of that reading. Mostly I read writing advice books to enjoy the voice and the company of likeminded writers and to find inspiration. It’s motivating, yet cozy as a warm blanket, to read a book on writing advice and think, “Yes, I agree. I’m doing that. I could try that. I should go write some more now.” I end up reading writing advice for the same reasons I drink coffee. It’s a stimulant that makes you feel warm inside.
That’s ultimately why I decided I will soon add to the tonnage of writing advice books. Some books are very specific and prescriptive about writing. Others give excellent advice and strategies for marketing for the indie author (like Jeff Bennington’s intrepid Indie Author’s Guide to the Universe.)
Mine will be a softer approach for newer writers, like Bird by Bird. I’ve gone back to Stephen King’s On Writing again and again. These are the books that told me I wasn’t alone and this wasn’t so hard or crazy if I just pecked away at it. It was simply craft and there isn’t a secret besides sitting down (or getting on my treadmill desk) and doing the work I knew I could do.
The aspiration for this book is more modest than some who take a step-by-step, flow chart approach. My book on writing will be inspiration for the new indie author, much of it drawn from posts on this blog. Early on I linked to others less and wrote more about craft (instead of focusing on marketing the Indie Author Revolution as I seem to do now.) I selected the best and most useful posts from over 900 articles on ChazzWrites.com, then added to them, wrote some new stuff and edited again.
My book won’t be as ambitious as some who (may Thor bless them) give strict advice on what to do and how to do it. My ideal reader will be a writer like me who wants to grab a steaming coffee, curl up in an armchair and read Crack the Indie Author Code: Aspire to Inspire (yes, that’s what I called it and yes, it’s coming soon). Readers will find an ally, inspiration and company on the journey to publication. For me, the work is about the writing first and foremost. The real fun happens in our heads as we write and nurture that spark of inspiration into a flame that throws light and heat. I’m happiest at my keyboard hooked up to the coffee in the intravenous drip.
Do I think writing can be taught? Sure. If you want it enough to bother to go looking for the education, that’s the cardinal sign and symptom that you’re already infected with the writing bug, anyway.
- Author Blog Challenge 21: My Top 20 Best (Worst?) Advice for Authors (chazzwrites.com)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Can you blog a book? Sure you can. (chazzwrites.com)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Risk more (chazzwrites.com)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Top 10 things I wish I didn’t know about readers (chazzwrites.com)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Indies Versus Committees (chazzwrites.com)
- Ultimate Blog Challenge: Top 10 What I’ll soon do differently with my book promotion (chazzwrites.com)