Who will become a writer?

Feb 21, 2017 | Better Writing

Last week, two different sets of parents asked me to talk to their children because their children wanted to become writers. The kids were about the same age, in their early teens. They even had similar names. But they were very different.

One of them, I’ll call her Terri, was a superb student who got especially good grades in English. She wants to write novels and, “be a great writer.”

The other person, I’ll call him Terry, doesn’t know exactly what he wants to write. He’s tried poetry and essays and a few stories.

The Key Question

I asked both kids the same question, “What are you writing?”

Terri was writing outlines. She was planning her novel. Terry had written all kinds of things: scraps and stories and poems. His current passion was writing what he called “sketches,” brief descriptions of people he knows.

It’s always dangerous making judgements early about people. Things could change with these two kids in a of couple weeks, let alone a couple of years. But, right now, I think Terry has the best shot at becoming a writer.

It’s not because he has more talent, or even more desire. Terry’s got a good shot because he loves to write. He writes things even if he really doesn’t know what he’s going to do with them.

Terri is different. She wants to get it right before she creates the novel she dreams of writing. Right now, at least, she’s more into planning her writing than in actually doing any writing.

Whether you’re like Terri or Terry, writing is pretty much the same thing. You need to throw yourself into it. Writing is an activity where you put something out there, revise it, reword it, rewrite it, and keep going.

Bottom Line

Lots of people want to have written something. Writers are people who write. The ones who do well seem to me to love process of wrestling the Angels of Meaning onto the page.