There’s one thing that I really hate and that’s when writers write about writing. I’ve never purchased or finished a book on writing in my entire life. I find it the most boring, insipid, ridiculous waste of time in the entire world. And do you know why? Here’s something that most writers don’t fucking realize:
There is no correct way to write and having a passion for writing means more than simple grammar lessons.
I’ve skimmed through books that start off telling the reader how they should write. It should be disciplined, focused, structured, and regimented as hell. I believe we all recall when I tried to invent some structure for myself and how horribly that experiment went. I am definitely a writer. Anyone who wants to debate that is welcome, but the evidence is stacked in my favor. However, having some kind of detailed schedule and procedure for my writing didn’t work in the slightest. This doesn’t mean that I’m not a writer, what I think it means is that this idea that there is a certain way that one has to write is just bullshit.
If someone did adopt this rigid structure and managed to write for how many ever hours a day the book demanded, that alone would not make them a writer. It would put words on a paper, but that alone, doesn’t make you a writer. Part of being a writer is not just having written, it’s a passion and a drive that means you can’t not write. Writing is as essential to your life as breathing is. It doesn’t matter how or when you write, if you can’t go without writing for a certain time period without noticing negative effects from it, you’re probably a writer.
Also, a lot of writing books that I’ve seen are really just grammar manuals. Sure, proper writing is important and every writer should know how to write like an educated person. But when I started writing at age 12, imagine how good I was at mechanics. I don’t have copies of my earliest works and you know, I’m perfectly fine with that. What I remember was total shit and my writing that I do have from around 13 is so terrible that there’s nothing to indicate to me that I had any idea what I was doing when I was a year younger.
But the important thing is that I kept writing. I kept learning. Now I have a degree in English. Anyone can learn how to punctuate a sentence. No one can be taught the inherent need to write. If you want to learn to write, you have to find what works for you, just as you need to find your own voice. The only thing you need to start with is the desire to write. Everything else can come later. Words, once they get on the page, can be edited.
I was recently talking to a co-worker who told me about a book she read that claimed someone had to have 10,000 hours of practice in a to call yourself a master of it. And fuck, do I already have that. I started immediately thinking of how I could figure out how many words I type per hour, slow it down a bit as I don’t consistently type when I’m writing, then figure out how many words I’ve written since the beginning of time, then do the math to figure out how much time I’ve spent on writing. But honestly, I know it’s over 10,000.
The one week I tracked my writing I ended up with 52,000 words without even really trying. I once looked at the wordcount for my Children’s Entertainment Scrivener project. It was well over 100,000 words, between my reviews and notes. Clearly, I write a lot and 10,000 hours, between writing and editing, would be nothing for me.
So if I can have mastered this ability, without rigid structure, with taking months off at a time occasionally, without having a plan for my writing and meeting quotas every night and still having a life outside of writing, it’s clear that no one else needs it either. If you want to be a writer, then just write. Try new things, conquer new genres. But whatever you do, don’t pick up a book on writing and think that it’s going to teach you anything. No writer can teach you how to need to write. It’s not possible. You either do or you don’t.