I read the most disheartening article about writing today — a rarity among a supportive community of writers out there who write valuable posts on writing. I follow numerous writing blogs and have always taken away helpful advice on the writing craft, encouragement in times of doubt about my writing, and other relatable aspects that are applicable to writing and the writing life. I won’t mention the title of the article, the author’s name, nor provide a link. I refuse to endorse such discouraging writing. My only hope is that other writers out there who have read similar articles don’t get discouraged or think for a moment — as I did — that you lack talent or are too old to write.
It’s most ironic that the author of the article is a former instructor in an MFA writing program; a person who claims that most of the students in the writing program had nothing provocative to say and no compelling way of expressing themselves. Clearly, this person has no business in fostering any kind learning in an academic institution. Throughout my studies for my bachelor’s degree in creative writing, I’ve had extremely supportive professors who have been encouraging, who have shared their knowledge of the craft and publishing, as well as provided honest feedback. I’ve also had classmates in critique groups who have been brutally honest in their feedback, which has calloused my skin and made me a better writer.
But the discouragement and negativity in the article doesn’t end there. The article also claims that “writer’s are born with talent.” Sure, people are born with all kinds of talents. That doesn’t mean skills and talents are not learnable. Just because I wasn’t born with the ability to listen to a song and play it on a guitar by ear doesn’t mean I can’t learn to read sheet music and strum some melodies. I think the more accurate way to put it is: If you don’t have a passion for writing (or anything, for that matter), then your chances of success diminish. It has nothing to with the special talents you are born with. And it surely has nothing to do with age. In fact, with each passing year, my writing gets better and better. This is true of my nonfiction history writing, my poetry, and my fictional stories.
For others out there who feel as though they’re too old to write, read Words Of Wisdom: You’re Never Too Old To Write at Writer’s Relief and Late Bloomers: 7 Authors Who Prove It’s Never Too Late To Start A Writing Career hosted at Huffington Post.