You’re a god of writing. Or are you?


Talented writers? Are they born or developed? Some people might say, if you have to go on a course to learn to write, you’re never going to be any good.

Questions are often raised as to whether writers needs to do a creative writing course in order to learn the basics of good writing. The view many people take is that, where creativity’s concerned, you’re either good or you’re not, and if you fit into the latter category, no course is going to give you a talent you weren’t born with.

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Yes, we all came out of the womb knowing how to do this. It was very painful for our mothers.

This is pretty unfair. Some might even go as far as to say it’s downright snobbery. Obviously, there are many writers who are naturally talented. They seem to know without thinking, what constitutes a good plot, what image will be most powerful, how to create natural dialogue that delivers most impact to the reader. Writers like these have a natural capacity to write from an early age, and they develop their skills through sheer hard work. As a result, they have little truck with writing courses. Who can blame them? They did it all themselves, so you should too. However, the way I see it is, these writers also have a natural confidence that drives them, and not all of us are that lucky.

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Do not interrupt. Genius at work. Any noise will cause his head to implode.

When I started to write, (after years of procrastination, and gazing at books I loved, thinking ‘I can never write like that’. I was right – I couldn’t, so instead I learned to write like myself) my prose-style was initially so full of holes, an elephant could have fallen through. My inclination was to over-explain everything, and I also found that my love-affair with language created an over-elaborate and flowery effect that was off-putting for the reader. This didn’t mean I was a bad writer – what I had in common with more accomplished writers was a love of books, a love of words, and a compulsion to write, that gave me a great starting point – but I clearly had a lot to learn.

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Popular writing mistakes.

Joining a writing course made me realise that there is a type of ‘science’ to good writing (a science, however, that does not have a ‘one rule fits all’ formula. Writers all have their own styles that these ‘scientific’ theories should not inhibit, but should instead, work alongside). Some people are aware of this ‘science’ instinctively, but many are like me – they need to learn how it works.. Once I learned what constituted good writing, I could apply this knowledge, and my writing improved significantly (though even now, beyond the course, I’m still learning and improving, and happy to do so.)

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Weirdly, staring at all these scientific numbers and symbols isn’t helping to get my novel moving along.

But of course, be warned. Doing a course by itself will not make you a good writer. You’re not going to improve if you’re not ready to change. You have to be prepared to take on the advice of others, you have to be ready to work hard, and you have to be open to adapting your writing. There’s a phrase that purports writers as the ‘god(s) of (their) own work’. This basically means that, whatever anyone else says, you are CREATOR, and so any final decision-making regarding your story is up to you. What it doesn’t mean is: ignore what everyone says, and don’t change a thing.

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Don’t you DARE tell me what to do with my story!

Being a GOD OF WRITING means a writer should take any constructive criticism and use it wisely. The critiquer isn’t always right, but then neither are you. You should think about what you were initially trying to achieve in your writing and how the constructive criticism fits within that framework, then change your writing based around your own view and theirs. Sometimes your initial idea is not going to work, and you might just have to give up on it. Your story might turn into something else entirely (this happens to me on a regular basis). It doesn’t matter – creativity has no boundaries. So what if your story isn’t how you intended, as long as it works in the end? Remember, your reader’s enjoyment is far more important than your initial idea or your ego.

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THIS ISN’T HOW MY STORY WAS MEANT TO GO!!!!!! *head explodes*

Okay, back to some sanity.  In the next blog post, I will be looking at the advantages and disadvantages of the creative writing course, and the one I enrolled on in particular.

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8 Comments

Filed under Creative writing, Writing, writing courses

8 responses to “You’re a god of writing. Or are you?

  1. I know I started out as a really not very good novel writer lol. I’ve lots of progress through taking critique feedback, as you said, taking classes, and just writing a lot. Thanks for reminding people that really, writing is a skill you develop, even though some of us may start with a stronger ability

  2. I think we’ve all got something to offer as writers, haven’t we? Otherwise there wouldn’t be so many different genres available in so many different writing styles. Not all readers want the same thing, thank goodness! It means we’ve all got a chance, as long as we continue to try and write to the best of our abilities and develop good stories.

  3. E. L. Lindley

    A great post sally and I couldn’t agree with you more. I hate the way some writers create the illusion that writing is an elite club and only ‘special’ people can join. Everybody has the potential to be creative and the biggest barrier is fear and lack of confidence. I definitely believe that the most useful thing anybody who wants to write can do is read, read, read!

    • Reading is definitely the key. You learn something about writing with every book you read. Unfortunately, writing stories, blogging, and making wonderful new contacts through social media, takes up so much time now, that reading seems to have taken a bit of a back seat somewhat. I feel quite sad about that, really, because losing yourself in a book is what it’s all about, isn’t it?

  4. Heylo, great post, I like the captions in the pics too! Going with what you say ^ I thought you might really like this book ‘Reading Like A Writer’ by Francine Prose, http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/aw/d/1908526076/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1401858027&sr=8-1&pi=SL75 its really cool, she takes lots of passages from great writers/books and picks them apart to show what makes them so effective, individual words, sentences, dialogue. Found it superhelpful&got loads of great book/author recommendations from reading it too. Alright, its starting to sound like I’m working on commission. All the best 🙂

  5. Hi Stephen, I’m sure I’ve had Francine Prose’s book recommended to me before – it sounds very familiar – but I think I put off buying it because if you could see the piles of unread and half-read books by the side of my bed and on my shelves, you’d understand the compulsion to not add to them. Writing and social networking seem to be taking over my life – both are enjoyable so I won’t complain about it – but I do miss my quiet reading time. I need three extra hours added to each day! Anyway, the books sounds really interesting so I’m going to get myself a copy – I admire your writing style, and you’ve obviously gained a great deal from her advice.

  6. Tom

    Hi Sal. A good post and plenty to think about. I’m all for writing what you like and then going back to improve it. As we all know, it’s easy to be critical, but perhaps not so easy to be critical in a constructive way.
    I know your writing since before you completed your course so I think we’re going to be seeing great things from you.
    By the way, it’s nice to see blog posts from you too.

    • Hi Tom – good to see you. Yes, since my writing course finished I’ve found that I’ve much more time for writing my blog (as well as other things). It’s good to be back. Sadly, there isn’t enough time in the day for everything I want to write. (Or enough energy and brain power!)

      Yes, funny how long we’ve known each other through the net. I first met you on the Circalit days, and we all know how long ago that was 🙂 I think we must be classed as writing platform old timers by now!!!

      Yes, there’s definitely an art form to constructive criticism – which not everyone has the capability for. Critiquers should be heavy handed with the tact, and light on the criticism – at least until they develop a stronger relationship with the writer. There are some of my writing friends who can be as blunt as they like with me, because I know they know what they’re talking about.

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