Thursday, February 10

A dirty secret

Writing is often treated, especially by new writers, as a kind of dirty secret: something they don't like to admit to in public.  This may be because a new, inexperienced writer who does the opposite - tells the world about their writerly-ness and creative potential - is likely to come across as very annoying!

Of course that sort of attitude could be found in any artist.  Has anyone met a visual artist who thinks that the world owes them a living - a creative genius before they have actually achieved anything?  Yes, me too!  However, at least they can (in most cases) point to an art diploma.

Partly because of the way writing is (not) taught in schools, a lot of beginner writers seem to have misconceptions about the amount of work required to do it well.  Most people can write in their native language.  They enjoy books.  It is easy to assume that you can 'do' creative writing.  This is a bit like learning the piano, and then settling down to compose a concerto.  Being able to play the instrument (or write the language) is a prerequisite, but it isn't the only required skill.

There may also be a misconception of the word 'creativity' - as if this means that all you need is to swim about in your own imagination and something wonderful is bound to result.  It will be very few writers who manage that, unfortunately.  The process may be enjoyable.  But it is much more likely to be successful if the key skills are learned, and some feedback from other writers is obtained. 

And for that, the dirty secret might need to come out into the open.


  1. Anonymous12/2/11 10:50

    I think there is also a fear of criticism inherent in most creatives. Writers produce a piece of work and then are reluctant to let anyone read it because they fear the response. For a writer to be able to grow and develop they need to turn off the inner critic, but embrace all others.

  2. Hey Tom! Yes, it can be a scary process putting yourself out there as I'm sure you know. Any criticism can be tough, and if it's something personal to you, it's all the harder.

    I definitely think that embracing your critics is the way to improve - and no doubt gets easier with time - and with the occasional bit of positive feedback :) How is your writing going?