Comment on Self-Assessment: The One Question Every New Writer Wants Answered

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The One Question Every New Writer Wants Answered

On the last day of the quarter, I often ask students in my memoir class to write down on an anonymous slip of paper a question about writing. When I did this recently, I received a number of questions about the legal implications of writing about others, how one finds an agent, how to decide on the structure of a book…all good questions. But then there was one question that stood out from the bunch. On a torn piece of lined notepaper, the writer asked simply, “Am I good?”

This was an interesting article for me to read. I have asked myself the same question on this blog before. In fact, I ask myself this question every time I write something. Usually, I push it to the back of my mind and get on with the business of actually writing. In essence, this article proposes that it really doesn’t matter whether or not you are “any good” or have talent at writing. The important thing is to practice the craft; write and write some more.

Yes, I do think there is such a thing as talent. Some people have a natural ability with words and storytelling, but not all those with that talent decide to keep writing. There are also many writers who might have shown little discernible talent in their early years, but for whatever reason, they kept writing, and their skills improved.

I remember back to Grade Nine English class. Our teacher made us write something every day. First we started with writing simple paragraphs and then very short essays of three paragraphs (Introduction, Body and Conclusion). Eventually we graduated to larger compositions spanning multiple pages. I cannot stress enough that this practice got me interested in writing and made me more confident about expressing myself in written form. I can’t thank my English teacher enough (Thanks, Ms. Olchowy!)

I suspect that you need at least a modicum of talent in order to string sentences together coherently but, for the most part, getting good at writing means writing…a lot. This is the same for Calculus, coding or public speaking. This blog helps me address my need to write and helps me become better at expressing myself with written words. Am I any good? I have no idea but I think I’m getting better.

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