Although just putting words on paper, as with freewriting, is easy, writing so that other people understand your words, and are moved by them, is not. That’s because writing, like hitting a 95-mph fastball over the Green Monster, or singing a Puccini aria, is a complex skill. Like any complex skill, it is made up of a large number of component skills. I group these skills into two main categories: content skills, and craft skills. Read More
The Mastery Path for Writers: a new way to learn the skills you need
If you want to be a writer, you need to be a writer.
That sounds like a Zen saying, doesn’t it? Let me explain.
So many people say they want to be writers; few of them actually do it. There are many reasons why a desire to write doesn’t translate into producing finished pieces of writing. One of the main reasons is that most people don’t know what writers actually do. Read More
To get on the Mastery Path is simple. First, you need to give up the talent myth, thereby freeing yourself from the endless worry of wondering whether you’re any good or not. Second, you need to give up the idea that writing is easy.
Once you’ve abandoned the talent myth, then it’s possible to see how experts in any field become great: they aren’t born with their skills—they learn them. We can do that, too: after all, the human brain is designed for learning. Read More
If you have bought into the prevailing idea that being a writer is something you “are,” a function of your “self,”then the concept of “talent” probably lurks in your mind, threatening to overwhelm your fragile self-confidence. Most people believe that great writers are born, not made; that they are special individuals gifted at Read More
Once, many decades ago, I was an ignorant and scared writing teacher facing my first classes. I knew little about writing, and still less about how to teach. But right from the start I loved teaching; right from the start I loved reading my students’ writing; Read More
These days, most people who want to write find themselves at one time or another in a writing workshop, perhaps a course at a college, or a group that meets in someone’s home. That’s because the workshop model for learning prevails in the teaching of creative writing (and often composition as well). Participants in the group present work in progress, and give each other “feedback” on their work. This is supposed to help them improve as writers. But does it? Read More
Anyone who wants to become a writer these days is likely to be confused by the variety of approaches offered in writing workshops and how-to books. Maybe you’ve been told, “Just keep writing, you’ll get better,” or you’ve followed Annie Lamott’s advice to produce “sh-tty” first drafts, or you’ve followed Natalie Goldberg through years of freewriting, or Julia Cameron into endless exploration of your psyche. Or perhaps Read More