Are Writers Born or Made?
This is one of the most enduring questions in the writing and publishing world, and it’s impossible to really know the answer, but I’m going to give it a shot. To really answer this question, we have to define terms (my philosophy professor would be so proud). In particular, we need to define a writer.
Writer (n): one that writes, as an author
Author (n): 1. one that originates or creates, 2. the writer of a literary work (as a book)
In that case, anyone can be a writer because anyone can create or originate something, even a book. But, that doesn’t mean that what they create is any good. Even being published isn’t a guarantee of quality (as I’m sure all of you know). This begs, then, what people are really asking since the answer to that question is pretty simple – writers are made because no one is born knowing how to write.
But I Think Writers are Born
That’s right; I said it. I think that writers are born, not made. This isn’t to say that someone who has very few writing skills can’t learn to write better, but that’s not really what we’re talking about when we ask if writers can be made. We are really asking to be validated as a writer. We’re asking if we can be writers.
Just asking that question usually means that you were born as a writer, or a creator. It means that you have a kernel of a story lurking inside of you that’s just waiting to be told. You have something to say and you want to know if you can do it or if it’s really as easy as television and movies often make it out to be.
Granted, that doesn’t mean that you’ll get that six-figure advance or be the next Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. It doesn’t mean that the book you write will be made into the next Twilight or The Hunger Games. You might never get read, even by your significant other or mother. But that doesn’t mean you’re not a writer.
A writer puts pen to paper (or finger to keys) because they have no other choice. They have ideas jockeying for position while they’re busy on their date-night (much to the chagrin of their hard-working spouse) and characters whispering in their ear as they go on their morning run (only to have to turn back because, dammit, they didn’t bring a pen). These people are going to keep telling stories whether they ever get published or not, and they are born.
But an idea does not mean that you can communicate it well. It does not make you a good writer. Practice makes you a good writer, and editing, and voice. Luck and hard work (mostly luck) are what make you a successful one.
Make Yourself a Better Writer
Write. (Yes, that’s more practice.)
Then, when you have something workable, you have to keep working. Submit it, follow up, and submit it again. If it’s for you, self-publish. Either way, you need to market and keep writing.
I hope this is more encouraging than discouraging, as I think almost everyone can write if that’s what they truly want to do. They just need to — like in everything else — work at it and have some luck. What do you all think? Can writers be made or do you have to be born with it? What do you think makes you a writer?