3 Common Myths about Writing, Debunked

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Many believe writing is a natural gift you acquire at birth, and it is impossible to develop and realize it on your own. They say since it is an inborn skill, very lucky few have it. Others think writing is a privilege that only the rich with resources and proper education can afford. But, the truth is anyone can be a writer because these are myths, not facts:

  • Writing is a natural gift
  • It is a privilege of the rich 
  • You need to be well-educated to be a writer 

Let us debunk them one by one here.

  1. Writing is a natural gift

The ability to write is not a gift of nature given for free, but a skill that anyone can acquire and improve upon. Some, especially poets, may have a better predisposition towards it, but to be a writer is to write and write regularly. No writer has their stories revealed to them in full. There is a process typical of writing and every writer. Finding a comfortable place and starting to write is a struggle. Everyone is afraid of the blank page, loneliness and distractions. Each one battles with gathering and penning down their thoughts.

Every writer feels disappointed and heartbroken occasionally at having a writer’s block. Every single one undergoes the arduous process of choosing fitting words and writing meaningful sentences. All writers edit and, sometimes, do it countless times. Of course, the more you write, the better you get at it, but there will be challenges when you start a piece afresh. But, the problem is that many people do not understand or misunderstand this process. Hence, they misattribute years or decades of hard work behind writing to nature’s gift. It is not. Write and acquire the skill.

  1. It is a privilege of the rich 

People tend to believe that writing is a privilege of the rich few because they have the money, time and plenty of other resources to afford it. The truth is you do not need to be wealthy to be able to write because many of the affluent are not writers. Instead, some of the world’s best writers were born poor.  Eric Hoffer, an American moral and social philosopher and writer, was seven when his mother died. He was a young man when his father died. Hoffer worked in restaurants and other odd jobs for over two decades. He is just one example of the countless other prolific writers who had no relation to riches but became the world’s famous writers.

Having books, libraries, teachers and other sources at your disposal is critical to guide your writing, but they are not sufficient in themselves. You still have to make an effort to pick up the book to read and a pen and notebook to write. You have to have a purpose, passion, inspiration and commitment to be a writer. Without this desire, writing is an elusive and almost an impossible skill to master, regardless of your background and access to means.

  1. You need to be well-educated to be a writer

Education and degrees are not a guarantee for learning how to write professionally because many well-educated people are not writers. Not even good schools equip you with the skill of writing unless you have a personal drive to excel at it. Writing assignments or attempting exams at school once in a while is undoubtedly helpful but not enough if you aim to become a competent writer. Don’t get me wrong. A good education does enable people with essential reading and writing literacy skills, but to become a skillful writer you need passion and vision in addition to knowledge.

To be a writer is to read and learn the language, in which you want to write, well. You need to learn the writing techniques and skills and practice them regularly. Start with these two books: Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg and Letters to a Young Writer by Colum McCann. Consult these two previous posts from this blog: You need to Do 9 Things to be a Writer and 5 Essential Lessons in Writing for Beginners. It is not education per se, but your passion and investment that are of significant value to writing. Hoffer did not get a formal education and was instead self-educated, but he wrote ten books. His first book, The True Believer, which I am currently reading, is famous for his classic. Next time you feel discouraged because you did not attend a renowned school to become a writer, remember that your level or kind of education should help, not prevent you from becoming a writer.

 

Author: Aslam is a writing Lecturer and Ph.D. student of Global Affairs at Rutgers University. He can be reached at aslam.kakar@rutgers.edu or @aslam_Kakar

 

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