Are great writers born or made?
Is writing a learned skill or innate? Know the myths and facts of brilliant writing.
I believed I was a writer when I was a child. As soon as I learned to read in first grade, I filled out notebooks with my literary musings. I asked my mom to buy Dragon Ball Z stickers so I could place them on top of the notebooks’ pages. I drew inspiration from them and wrote anything I could think about the character stuck on each paper.
I got back to writing in my notebooks again during high school, scribbling stories that were taking place in fantasy worlds. I was J.K. Rowling; only that my writing kind of sucked. I wrote countless short stories and poetry that never saw the light of day. Believe me, I wanted to but I just thought they were never enough to astound even the simplest of minds.
But I continued writing for myself and it got me to where I am today. So are writers born or made? For me to answer this question, here are four myths and realities of writing that aspiring writers should know.
MYTH: BEING A BRILLIANT WRITER IS A GIFT.
FACT: WRITING BRILLIANTLY IS A LEARNED SKILL.
While I’m not yet as brilliant as J.K Rowling or Stephen King, I believe that great writers have become who they are through constant practice. Most seasoned authors agree that the knack for expertly weaving words together can be developed overtime. It usually begins during the years of your stay at school, wherein you are taught to write through a structured process. With formal instruction, you can properly learn the basics and technicalities of writing that help you become a proficient writer.
MYTH: WRITING WELL IS A SINGLE SPECIAL SKILL.
FACT: WRITING WELL IS THE COMBINED RESULT OF MASTERING A WIDE RANGE OF SKILLS.
You won’t have the ability to write well if you don’t know how to apply the rules of grammar and vocabulary. There’s also the need to construct and organize sentences properly and make them coherent to form a single thought. These are skills that are often honed in institutions, which are backed up by feedback from instructors.
There are times that students are given writing prompts from which to start their writing process. Students are sometimes asked to give voices to their works, whether they are written to inform, persuade, narrate, document, or report. Each writing style requires a different skill set from the rest. Demonstrating a mastery of all these skills is in itself a difficult thing to do.
MYTH: THERE’S ONLY ONE WRITING PROCESS THAT ALL WRITERS FOLLOW.
FACT: MOST WRITERS FOLLOW THEIR OWN UNIQUE WRITING PROCESS.
It might be ideal to follow a formal writing process to ensure quality writing. However, most writers have their own techniques that work well for them. This is because we have individual learning styles that allow us to adapt to methods that help align our goals. For instance, a lot of writers today undergo ideation as they write since technology has allowed people to reorganize thoughts quickly. Instead of following the traditional writing process, they forego the prewriting stage and directly go straight to writing their first draft. Everything else follows after that.
MYTH: BRILLIANT STORY-TELLING OR WRITING IS EASILY TEACHABLE.
FACT: NOT REALLY. GREAT WRITERS SHARE COMMON TRAITS THAT SIMPLY CANNOT BE TAUGHT.
One of the most common characteristics that great writers share from their early years is that they start to read differently than the rest of us. As observed by most, the people who grow up to be writers study and practice their writing skills on their own. It stems from their strong reading habits. Not only are they prodigious readers, but they also analyse how authors craft and put their stories together.
As what I always say on this blog, one of my primary reasons for reading is that I want to know how brilliant writers write. I usually study how they make use of sentences. Do they use short or long sentences? Are they concise with their descriptions? Do they use lots of details to describe something? How are they able to handle different point of views and provide meaningful life to their characters?
Analyzing an author’s writing style can be taught, but most authors shared that they started doing this by themselves.
While you may not be as great as George R.R. Martin today, take comfort in knowing that you can learn to become a good or even a great writer. It takes years- this is a fact- but with sheer determination and lots of practice, you can hone your writing skills throughout the years.
You can start today. You don’t have to be a pro to begin telling your story. You don’t even have to tell a soul that you’re doing it. Just write, maybe to simply clear your head and materialize your thoughts. Pick up a pen and a paper or open a word processor to start writing. Allow the ink to bleed; let the words flood on your screen. Tell your imagination to fly.