For writers, the Internet is both a blessing and a curse. Writers can now share their work across multiple platforms and can gain exposure in ways that were once non-existent. Regrettably, these platforms are also available to people who think they can write well, but don’t.
Everyone these days thinks they’re a writer. But can anyone be a writer?
Anyone can say they’re a writer. Thanks to dictionaries, many people fall under the definition of a writer because they are a person who writes. But saying you’re a writer and being a writer are two different things.
The question still stands—can anyone be a writer? I don’t think so. And I also do. It all depends on your perspective of the situation.
Can Anyone be a Writer? Why I Say No.
As one of the many graduates of advanced creative writing programs, I consider myself fortunate to have a stable career with a paying job in writing. Not writing books or plays, but still centered around writing creatively.
I genuinely mean this.
That being said, this writing talent of mine isn’t a hot, sought-after commodity in the workplace. Perhaps they haven’t seen my LinkedIn profile or read my blog? Perhaps I should hang my MFA diploma in my cube?
Kidding. Sort of.
It doesn’t matter whether or not they know about my writing skills, or the writing skills of any of my talented peers. Some people truly believe that if they can punch letters down on paper, they can write. When words need to be written, the in-house talent often remains on standby while the words are written by someone who thinks irregardless is a word.
As a writer, it pains me to receive an approved piece of content that begs for a red-pen makeover. Where is the brevity? The strong verbs? The crescendo of a sentence leading up to the peak at the last word?
There should be virtual graveyards for all the could-have-been-great content.
Don’t believe me? Think back to a received email that used too many commas, a website homepage that threw up too many exclamation points and an online ad that you had to read three times to understand. Bad writing is gets out to the public just as easily as good writing.
Publishing words today is easy, too easy. We’re pushing words out to the world too quickly without giving it a well-needed review. So now the Internet is riddled with run-on sentences and phrases that simply don’t make sense.
I blame the Internet on this one. All it takes is a button to send an email, post a social media status, submit a comment, publish on a blog, refresh a personal website. No gatekeepers, no administrator approval needed.
Granted, we all fall victim from time to time to a typo. But correct spelling is only a fraction of what writing really is.
Writing is the act of conveying powerful meaning through words. Strong writing does this creatively, cleverly and concisely. Strong writing addresses both problem and solution. Strong writing keeps the reader focused and captivated.
Now tell me honestly that anyone can write. Because the truth is, not everyone can do this.
Can anyone be a writer? No, and that’s okay. I can’t juggle or kick a soccer ball to save my life. I can’t go one day without saying the wrong word in a conversation. And I tell everyone that I can dance when my best move is flailing my arms up on the dancefloor.
We can’t be great at everything. What we can be is our best selves who are honest about our personal strengths and weaknesses.
And if you ever need a writer, you know who to contact.
Can Anyone be a Writer? Why I Say Yes.
I wasn’t born a writer. In fact, no one is. Some people learn how to write well early in life, while some pick it up in the later years.
Even after earning my fancy-pants writing degrees, I wasn’t yet a writer. Just ask my former boss at my first full-time gig. It took me years—and the patience of my mentors—to hone my writing skills.
I can at least say that I was honest. I always said I was going to be a writer, not that I already was a writer. Sure, I wrote stories, songs, poems and diary entries daily. Sure, I sought out writing camps, classes and conferences more than most teenagers. But even then, I knew that the title of writer is earned, not self-claimed.
Many industries deem you’re a writer once you consistently receive a paycheck for writing professionally. This can be true, to a point. If someone pays you to write on their behalf, clearly you’re doing something right. Then again, I was paid for years of professional writing before I believed myself to be a writer.
So, can anyone be a writer? Of course. But you have to work for it.
Becoming a writer means writing a lot of crap, taking criticism with grace and learning how to effectively edit your own work. Becoming a writer means hours of studying great writing and even more hours of pondering ways to improve your work. Becoming a writer means being more dedicated to the mission of writing than your ego. Becoming a writer means never giving up until you can dependably deliver great writing.
Can you be a writer? That question can only be answered by you.