First Wednesday of the month means it's time again for another edition of the Insecure Writer's Support Group, the monthly event hosted by Alex J. Cavanaugh. This is where a bunch of writerly types convene to discuss writing and all of the conflicting good and bad feelings that come with the pursuit of the literary arts. This is a forum for commiseration and encouragement. Confide your fears or crow your victories. I'm sure you've got something worth saying so join in and let it all hang out.
Is Good Writing Learned or an Innate Talent?
I started reading and writing at a fairly young age. My parents bought me a variety of books over the years and always encouraged book ownership for me as well as visits to the library. The reading must have inspired my writing. That along with some good teachers over the years who encouraged my writing and instilled fairly decent knowledge of grammar and spelling. I've always enjoyed writing even when it came time for the essay tests in high school and college.
My sense is that our upbringing and education along with the attitudes of those around us are the influences that shape us into writing well. I'm not a big fancier in genetics making us what we are as far as behavior, preferences, and tastes, though I'm no geneticist so I don't feel qualified to argue this point.
How Can I Learn to Write Better?
Especially when the A to Z Challenge gets underway, I start finding blogs where there is some truly outstanding writing. Some of what I read on blogs is so amazing that it almost makes me just want to forget about blogging and take up some enterprise like watching television. Then I go and read books by really fine writers and see my own writing future as one of unsalvageable mediocrity. How can I write as well as these book authors write or some of the outstanding bloggers compose their blog posts?
Is it a matter of taking more writing classes? Reading more books about writing? Subscribing to writing magazines? I think all of those can help but they are not the panacea that guarantees great writing. Reading top notch authors certainly can be a good influence. Even reading poor writing can teach us something sometimes.
The most important thing though is to keep practicing our writing. Blogging is useful in that respect. Writing when you feel like it is better than nothing, but writing when you don't want to write can be an amazing exercise. Daily writing such as the Blogging from A to Z Challenge might require can provide a good writing work-out. The bottom line though and the main point I'm trying to make is that writing should be treated like a job if you're seriously considering becoming a pro at it. You write because you have to do it and not just write when you feel like it.
If writing is like your hobby then fine--have fun with it. If you write to relax then don't get stressed about it and just take it easy. If you write because you feel like writing then that's appropriately what you should probably be doing. But if writing is a passion that you'd like to see pay off with either financial remuneration or just the satisfaction of being published or whatever your end goal may be, then sit down and just write without complaining, without regretting, and without excuses. No guarantees that you will attain writing greatness, but odds are you will write better.
And Now A Survey For You
Can you help me with some research? If so, please answer the following questions:
1) There are many ways we can improve our writing such as classes, writing groups, books about writing, writing blogs, magazines for writers, and so on. Which resource have you used the most for learning to become a better writer?
2) Whose knowledge do you accept as the highest authority where it comes to writing (for example--famous authors, established writers, writing teachers, bloggers, friends, family members, yourself, or someone else)?
3) Do you now or have you ever subscribed to any writing magazines (Writers Digest, Poets & Writers, Creative Nonfiction, The Writer, Quill & Quire, or others)? If so which and what are your thoughts about the usefulness of that(those) publication(s)?
Thanks in advance if you've been willing to help me with this research.
A to Z Reflections Posts
If you haven't added your Reflections Post link to the list yet we hope you will do so by this coming Friday May 8th. There are some outstanding posts so far--I hope you've been checking them out. There's been a lot of praise as well as some good ideas offered. These posts should be available throughout the year with the Linky List available on a tabbed page on the A to Z Challenge Blog.
Battle of the Bands
Voting is still open for my most recent Battle of the Bands post. If you still haven't voted I hope you'll pop over to cast your vote for your favorite version of "Je Crois Entendre Encore" as performed by David Gilmour or Alison Moyet.