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Yesterday I read this article that someone on Twitter linked to. For those who don’t want to click through, it’s titled “Can Anyone Be a Novelist?”. In short, it tells of how certain qualities are needed in order for one to be a novelist. The blogger says that anyone who can type and have an understanding of the language they’re writing in can write a book. But it won’t necessarily be a good book.
He goes further to say that two types of talent are needed to write a good book, namely the means to communicate effectively (string coherent and intriguing sentences together) and imagination. He says:
"To create good novels an author must be able to come up with new stories, settings, characters so the reader will be drawn in and held captive, not feel as though they’re reading a re-hash of some other story they’ve read. This cannot be learned: creativity is inborn."
That last sentence is the topic of my post.
Let me start at the beginning. I’m sort of a copier. When I was little, I did everything other people did instead of being myself. At some point I realised this and swung entirely in the reverse. So when I got out of school, I had an interest in the same line of work my brother was studying to, but in a courageous effort to avoid copying him, I swung in another direction and started studying accounting. Eventually I dropped that and started in the writing direction.
Which brings us to the present. Through a series of similar events as the above, I have begun being terrified that I’m doing the wrong thing. I.e. that I started something (like the accounting) that I don’t like or am good at, but which I’ve convinced myself is what I should do. Basically, I worry that I might be lying to myself.
So when I read something like the post I mentioned above, I start to wonder. Do I have this creativity? Then I notice that I copy a lot of things and from there things get out of hand I and start to doubt myself (never mind the inclination to copy other people that is already ingrained in me).
That is probably the thing that terrifies me the most. What if I’m not supposed to be a writer, i.e. what if I don’t have the necessary requirements to be a writer? What if I’m wasting my time doing something I’ll never be able to do (well)?
Most writers report being born with a pen in hand and writing since they could put a pencil to paper. Me? I wrote a bit of scraps here and there, but never really dabbled in it.
How do you know when writing is supposed to be hard and when it’s supposed to be easy? It seems to be always hard for me.
But I will just go on. I will remind myself that stories (rather than specifically writing) were a part of me from early on. Maybe I’ll never be a great writer, but then at least I’ll die trying.