We tend to look at successful people and believe they made it overnight, and that’s not limited to how we see authors. We see wildly successful people enjoying the fruits of their labor, but what we don’t see is the labor itself — the struggles and failures they endured to get to where they are now.
Nobody’s born knowing how to write; we all have to learn how to do it. Yet the myth persists that people who write well (or do anything well) are endowed with special talent. They are the chosen ones, the lucky ones, the gifted ones.
This idea that ability or success relies entirely on talent is silly. Talent is helpful, sure. But the best and most successful authors study, learn, and practice. They develop good habits and commit to the craft. They work hard. It’s as simple as that.
Learning to Write
Ernest Hemingway captured the myth of talent with wit and candor when he said, “It’s none of their business that you have to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.”
I disagree with Hemingway, partially because I don’t endorse misleading the public, but also because I think it’s important to make fledgling writers aware of all the hard work that goes into learning the craft.
Like I said, nobody’s born knowing how to write. So for young, new, and aspiring writers, the question is this: are you willing to learn? Are you willing to do the hard work and the painstaking practice — the years of learning — that goes into becoming a master?
What are some of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned on your writing journey? Do you agree with Hemingway that successful authors should let the public think they were born knowing how to write, or should we spread the word that writing requires hard work and practice? Share your thoughts and experiences by leaving a comment, and keep writing!