December 3

How to learn the craft of writing


    Our culture tends to perpetuate the myth that writing is an innate talent. From years of writing coaching and editing, though, I can tell you, without hesitation, that writing is a learned skill. Sure, some people want to learn to write from an earlier age, so they begin practicing the craft of writing from age 8, so by the time they’re 38, they have three decades of experience. But, I can also tell you, that whenever you start learning the craft of writing, you will improve each year that you continue to write purposefully.

    My sister and I have been doing family interviews with our grandparents, trying to preserve their memories and weave them into a book. One lesson that continues to strike me, over and over, is that when a difficult challenge presents itself, you just have to gain the skills you need to overcome that challenge.

    The other weekend, I had a fantastic conversation with my grandmother (Marie) and two of her sisters (Clara, who is younger, and Sister, who is the oldest of the seven siblings. Sister is 86-years-old). Here’s a re-telling of my favorite moment:

    Learning how to cook with no recipes and no tools

    Marie: Sister is the best cook I have ever seen. When we were growing up, she could make the best pies with just flour, water, an egg, and a little sugar.

    Clara: She didn’t even have a cookbook or measuring spoons! And she cooked three meals a day for the whole family of nine, every day.

    Marie: And she started when she was six years old!

    Sister: [Laughing] Well, that’s a lot of years of cooking. I sure hope I don’t have to cook when I get to heaven!

    Clara: Oh, but, Sister, you make the best dumplings! You put crisco in ‘em, right?

    Sister: Crisco? No, no, no!

    Clara: You don't? Well, it’s not like it’s rocket science. You can make ‘em however you want, long as they taste good!

    Then, the three sisters got into a tiff about the best way to make chicken and dumplings.

    I volunteered to be the taste-tester. :)

    What’s the lesson here?

    Yes, learning to cook using a recipe would be easier, but you can become an expert by cooking and experimenting every day. Sometimes, the challenge arises, and you don’t feel like you have the tools you need to excel, but I believe that with persistent, consistent action, you can become the writer you’re longing to be.

    As my great aunt Clara might say, “It's not like writing is rocket science. You can write a book however you want, long as they read it and like it!”

    Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. Just work with what you have, start writing, and keep writing. The book will come. Have faith.

    Have you ever found yourself in a situation of necessity, when you were forced to learn a skill set? Let me know in the comments below.


    You may also like

    Which "Publishing Path" is right for your book?

    There are FOUR different publishing paths for the modern author. Ready to discover which one's right for YOUR book?