QOTW: Are Some Not Meant to Write?

13 Aug

This week’s QOTW comes from McQuinn:

Are some people simply not meant to write?


I don’t think so. Or, at least, I’ve never met someone who I thought just wasn’t meant to write. As you guys learned from this past week, we all started out writing some REALLY crappy stuff. I honestly cringe when I read my old work. But I can also mark my improvement. I can honestly tell you that I didn’t really understand the concept of writing a “plot” until pretty late in the game. I mean, I knew what it was, of course, but I never gave much real thought to planning it out or thinking, “Hmm…this should happen here, and that there, etc.”

I was also melodrama and long sentence queen of the century. Really. But somehow, at the age of twelve, I managed to stumble upon a writing forum full of really nice, encouraging people. People who indulged little-me and said I was pretty darn good, but I needed to make improvements. If I worked hard, they told me, if I worked hard and wrote plenty and dreamed big, I’d be published someday.
So no, I don’t think there are those who aren’t “meant” to write. There are those with more natural talent than others, sure. But natural talent only carries you so far. If you write enough, and work hard enough, and dream big enough…well, you won’t need to worry about what was and wasn’t “meant” to be.

The Writer Querying


I think that there are people who are not meant to write, but that doesn’t mean it’s a punishment. There are a lot of people in publishing who started off as writers because they love stories, only to realize their true calling is in the production side, not the writing side. Additionally, in the non-writing and publishing world, there are people who flat out don’t like to read or write.

However, I think the nature of your question is probably leaning more towards advice for young writers wondering if writing is for them or not. The truth is that only you can decide if you’re truly a writer. Even if you try for 50 years and never get published, dedicating yourself to loving and creating stories makes you a writer, not your success or failures. And you know what? If you find something more fulfilling, it’s okay to lay down the pen. Don’t let your pride or stubornness get in the way of finding your true calling if it turns out that there’s something out there that’s a better fit for you than writing.

The Writer Condensing Three Novels Into One


Yes, but those people either won’t really try, or, like Sav said, will find that their real love is with something related, like editing or agenting.

If you want to write, but every time you start you feel like it’s total crap or the plot isn’t going anywhere, then this is my advice from experience: Drop the pretension. Stop trying to force fantasy and drama and epic magic into your writing just because that’s what you love to read. Write what comes naturally and explore different genres before giving up. Get others to read it and tell you what you’re doing wrong and consider their advice. There’s nothing worse than snubbing advice; you’ll never be able to grow. And don’t take criticism personally. If you give a piece of work to somebody who cares about you, chances are they’re being ‘mean’ because they want to help you improve.

Seriously, just practice. But practice well, with help from others and variations in what you’re doing. We were all crap when we started, and now there’s a whole week to prove it, but look at how far we’ve come just from never giving up. Until you get there, or until your passion is swayed towards something else, don’t stop trying. That’s the most important thing.

The Writer Revising Her First Novel


15 Responses to “QOTW: Are Some Not Meant to Write?”

  1. mrschanandlerbong August 13, 2010 at 2:22 AM #

    Aw, I really love these responses.
    I actually wonder this all of the time.
    I don’t know if I’m a good writer or not, but I’m always trying to get criticism from other people. Criticism is the only way I can improve. 😛

    • Biljana August 13, 2010 at 5:00 PM #

      It’s good that you have a positive outlook on criticism (though sometimes it should be taken with a large grain of salt) because so many people I know get all bitchy and “Wtf you don’t know anything” when I try to offer it.

  2. Aurora Blackguard August 13, 2010 at 2:28 AM #

    So perhaps I’ve been going about it the wrong way, all this time: Maybe just writing for MYSELF is enough for me 😀 Thanks a bunch, girls

    • Biljana August 13, 2010 at 5:01 PM #

      Glad you found it useful :).

  3. tymcon August 13, 2010 at 5:22 AM #

    I must admit i think there are people who don’t have the writers quirk. Like if you don’t imagine scenes then you can’t be a writer. Although that’s probably more that they don’t like reading more than anythign else.

    • Biljana August 13, 2010 at 5:02 PM #

      Yeah you do need to have a pretty good imagination.

  4. Rowenna August 13, 2010 at 8:55 AM #

    Great responses 🙂 I really can’t imagine anyone who’s really not meant to write enjoying writing. I’ve yet to find that I enjoy something I have absolutely no natural inclination for (skiing being an epic example of something I neither enjoy nor am talented at).

    Savannah–I love your answer especially:) Something I’m coming to understand in my aged state (aaak! quarter of a century 🙂 ) is that you don’t have to decide to do something for the rest of your life–just for now. So if you want to write now–write. If someday you discover you don’t really enjoy it, or the parts you don’t like outweigh the parts you do, stop and do something else.

    And of course, writing and writing for publication are two different things–even if I stop aiming for publication, discovering I can’t hack it there, am not meant for that route, I doubt I’ll stop writing 🙂

    • Biljana August 14, 2010 at 1:36 PM #

      I feel like what you want to do for the rest of your life will change and change until one you day you find you’ve been doing a thing you love all along and never noticed.

  5. Launo August 13, 2010 at 10:44 AM #

    Very encouraging!
    What are some good writing forums?

    • Kat Zhang August 13, 2010 at 5:07 PM #

      The Absolute Write forums are the biggest ones I know about. They’ve definitely got a ton of passionate, knowledgeable people there willing to help critique and/or commiserate about writing woes with you.

      The Verla Kay’s message board is great for Children’s book writers. Querytracker has a forum as well, though I don’t think it’s as extensive.

      The forum I used as a kid is none of the above. It’s much, much smaller, and my little secret ;P

  6. Joan August 13, 2010 at 12:32 PM #

    Terry Goodkind said he believed that real writers are born.

    My opinion tilts slightly his way. I think that you can’t force yourself to write. But if you keep trying, your skills improve. Maybe we’re all born writers and only some choose to hone our abilities.

    • Kat Zhang August 13, 2010 at 1:54 PM #

      No, I don’t think you can force yourself to write. I mean, all writers have to force themselves sometimes, but if you’re forcing yourself ALWAYS, then writing might not be for you.

      What I meant, though, was that if you love to write and you keep on writing with the will to improve, I don’t think you’ll hit a block just because you and writing weren’t meant to be. 🙂

    • Biljana August 13, 2010 at 5:08 PM #

      It is a bit of a nature/nurture argument. If you’re born a writer but you don’t nurture it not too much will come out of it. But if you’re not born a writer and you put time and patience into it, I think it IS possible to become good. It just might take a lot longer or a lot more work.

      (Btw I’d like to take this opportunity to say that Wizard’s First Rule is a freaking AWESOME book.)

  7. Armith-Greenleaf August 13, 2010 at 6:32 PM #

    I think it’s a matter of vocation, mostly. As an engineering student I don’t come across many aspiring engineers who can even write a report. They don’t know how to explain a concept in words; an introduction or conclusion? Holy smokes, that is so hard! And at the same time, I don’t know any law students who like to do math; if one class involves numbers they riot against it (or at least, students like my dad did.)

    So maybe it’s about being born a writer, and then going through the process of improving one’s understanding of it and honing one’s skill, and enjoying it. If you don’t enjoy it, how can you ever look forward to writing more?

    • Biljana August 14, 2010 at 1:37 PM #

      Yeah, you need to have something that makes it click so that you’re inspired and moved to continue.

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