Paula wonders: Are you ‘born to write’ or do you make a conscious decision to become a writer?
Last week I read P.D. James’ 10 top tips for writers. She’s
now 93, and is probably most famous for writing the Adam Dalgliesh mystery
Her first point was: You
must be born to write.
She said: You can't
teach someone to know how to use words effectively and beautifully. You can
help people who can write to write more effectively and you can probably teach
people a lot of little tips for writing a novel, but I don't think somebody who
cannot write and does not care for words can ever be made into a writer. It
just is not possible.
Nobody could make me
into a musician. Somebody might be able to teach me how to play the piano
reasonably well after a lot of effort, but they can't make a musician out of me
and you cannot make a writer, I do feel that very profoundly.
This really intrigued me. Was I born to write? All I know is
that I’ve written stories ever since I was about 8 or 9. Throughout my teens, I
wrote cheesy stories one after the other. I also kept long diaries – I remember
one (when I was 16 or 17) which ended up as a folder about 3 inches thick by
the end of the year (oh, how I wish I had kept that diary!). I wrote lengthy
letters to penfriends and, later, when I moved away from home, to several
friends back home. In that sense, I have always been a writer.
That doesn’t necessarily mean my writing is good! I know I write better than some authors I've read, but I'm also very aware that many others are far more talented than I am. However,
during the past few years, I think I have learnt to write more effectively. Not
necessarily following all the ‘rules’, but certainly making my writing
‘sharper’, using simple techniques like getting rid of speech tags and overused
words – like ‘that’ (etc)
One thing in P.D.James’ words struck a chord with me.
Unintentional pun there, but as child I learnt to play the piano. I wasn’t
good, I knew I wasn’t good, but I persevered and by my late teens I played adequately
enough to accompany the hymn singing at my local church. However, I wasn’t a
musician. I played from technique and practice, and not the ‘feel’ of it. I think the same applies to writing too. There is a world
of difference between techniques of writing and the ‘feeling’ I have about words, phrasing, and sentence flow.
I’ve read blogs and articles where some people have said
they ‘decided’ to become a writer. That’s something I’ve never understood. Can
you ‘decide’ to become an artist or a musician – or a writer? In my case, there
was never a conscious decision. Writing is as integral a part of me as
breathing! I don't think I ever made a decision to 'become an author' either. I wrote my first full-length romance novel when I was in my twenties, but I was writing it simply for myself. It was only after I finished it (in longhand) that I decided to type it out and send it to the only romance publisher I had heard of at the time - and no one was more surprised than me when it was accepted!
What do you think? Can you ‘make a decision’ to become a
writer, or are you born with something within you to create stories and write
The rest of P.D. James’ tips are here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-24867584
She makes some very pertinent comments, in my opinion.