There are two camps of thought in the prevailing winds about writing and writers. #1 says if you think you want to be a writer you probably aren’t going to be very good at it, because if you have to “think” about writing as a career then you have already missed the point. #2 says that if you can string words together into passable sentences then our MFA Program, Writer’s Workshop, $99 Critique group can turn you into a writer.
Honestly you can find a thousand articles on the Internet to back up either of the above ideas. The thing is, neither are right and most of what they espouse is wrong. It is the same kind of thinking that keeps politics so juvenile. The Far Right vs the Far Left mentality has led to more hardship in government than all the graft and pork combined.
Now what does that have to do with writing? It is the same type of argument either you MUST be a natural talent who could have penned a Pulitzer at age 10, or you are an UNeducated idiot who shouldn’t be allowed to so much as publish a Facebook post. Really? Perhaps I drank the Kool Aid at my public school. I believe that you can pull yourself up by your bootstraps and become whatever you desire to be. If that is a writer, then by all means do so.
Let’s talk straight with one another. The two camps aren’t TOTALLY wrong. The main thing the first camp comes up with is you should be naturally talented. Talent is nice if you have it from the git go. But I have found that those with talent to spare can’t handle failure. The talented people of this world think all the doors should open for them before they even reach for the handle. When the world, who can be a cold mistress, kicks them in the teeth they just quit. Talent can never beat hard work.
The main thing the second camp wants to sell you on is that of superiority. That you can earn superiority over others. Education will make you a superior writer, editor, poet…whatever. All the education and classes in the world can’t make you a successful writer. They might make you a successful teacher of writing. They might even help you get read faster than a non-graduate at a journal. Yet you’ll still get sent to the round file if your writing sucks. Is that really what all that money, time, and dedication should earn you? No probably not, but those are the breaks kids.
If you really want to be a writer in today’s globally connected world all you have to do is write and publish. NOW settle down back there! I didn’t say you should publish. Really writing is easy and fortunately or unfortunately (depends on who you talk to) publishing your work is easy too.
So what’s the nitty gritty? Both camps and the moderates, like me, can all agree on this one thing. You have to WRITE to be a writer. All the hoping, outlining, and lofty dreams of mint juleps on the porch with Faulkner won’t make you a writer.
Write every single stinking day. Write when you feel like crap. Write when you are over the moon happy. Write something. Every. Single. Day. Take classes on craft. Classes can only make you better. Do you have to use every tip or trick you learn about, heck no. You’re a smart cookie and you know that you will either live and breathe the snowflake method or (like myself) would rather die in a snowstorm than put yourself through that kind of misery. You become a writer the same way you become any other type of professional. You take hard work and mix it with your own brand a awesome. From there the sky’s the limit.