If you’re someone looking to improve your writing skills, you might be asking, “Can writing be taught?”
Every writer has their own opinion on the topic. Some believe it’s nearly impossible to learn from classes while others think that this craft can be studied under a teacher. You’ll find hundreds of differing opinions on this topic, and the answer usually depends on the outlook of the writer.
I don’t blame the two parties for their opinions. Oftentimes, even when someone does take writing classes, they might not improve at the rate they need to. This might be due to not putting in the time or the fact the student might learn at a slower pace.
However, that doesn’t necessarily mean the person didn’t improve at all. Measuring improvement can be difficult because writing’s somewhat subjective when thinking about what makes good content. Someone will like one style while you might prefer another. However, writers serious about improving will think about the feedback they receive from their teacher.
Can writing be taught? Well, my unique take is this: if you really want to learn the art of writing, of course writing can be taught — but it might not be in a traditional classroom setting. Here’s how.
Accepting your Voice and Natural Talent
The first step to teaching yourself how to write is accepting your voice and natural talent. These are two things you already possess and can’t change no matter how hard you try.
Everybody already has a writing style and their own gifts. It’s up to you to identify how you cultivate your writing voice and talent.
Your writing voice
Your writing voice is the natural way you communicate through words. Everyone has their own distinct writing voice whether you realize it or not. Our written voices are hard to imitate because it’s based on our background, dialect, and thought process.
Everyone has their own written voice. Pick up a book by any two authors in the same genre and notice how they approach writing differently. Their writing voices come through based on their stylistic choices.
You need to learn to accept your natural writing voice if you want to improve as a writer. Understanding how you communicate can help you build upon your foundation and improve your writing. If you want to teach yourself to write, this is a must.
Everyone has different gifts. Someone might be great at writing descriptions while someone else can make laugh-out-loud characters.
If you’re asking yourself “can writing be taught,” first you need to identify what you know and don’t. If you need to brush up on grammar, do so. If you’re good at dialogue but not building a backstory, work on researching ways to give characters a solid history. Every writer has something their gifted at and something they need work on.
Embrace the things you excel in: it will show in your writing!
Making the Effort
Can writing be taught? Yes, but only if you put in the effort.
Some people are born gifted writers, but most people have to learn the craft. This goes for any other art form like painting, music, or poetry. It takes time to learn the pieces and build your skill set. They even say it takes 10,000 hours to perfect a skill.
This is where people usually suggest to go to writing classes. A teacher can assign good books to read and give feedback on your work. Teachers are also a valuable resource in directing students towards works that will help them improve.
However, not all teachers are equally good at teaching the style you want to write in. Many have a bias for their favorite genre or authors, and sometimes your teacher simply doesn’t specialize in what you’re trying to write.
Learning writing requires effort from you. Think about how you learn best. Do you like to read blog posts? Or maybe you learn best by video. You can still take a class, but know that most of the learning has to come from your natural inclination to improve.
Find the learning method that works for you so you don’t have to ask yourself, “can writing be taught?”
New Ways to Learn Writing
The internet gives us more options than ever before to learn writing. Here’s a few ways you can start teaching yourself writing.
- Websites and blogs. There’s hundreds of resources out there dedicated to helping you learn grammar, character building, and story structure. Find those websites and subscribe to them with notifications. Read those posts and take notes on any helpful information you find. Reading over time will help you naturally absorb information.
- Videos. There’s many author Youtubers out there who love to talk about writing and improving your craft. My personal favorite is Alexa Donne because she talks about publishing and tips that will motivate you to write. If you can’t read hundreds of articles, listening to a video might help you absorb the information better.
- Reference books. If you find good and useful reference books, you can learn the art of writing. Go to your local bookstore and buy books on topics you’re not sure of. Dedicate an hour a day to reading those books. This will help you learn the art of writing.
- Podcasts. Podcasts about writing are plentiful. You can find authors, publishers, agents, bloggers, and industry experts talk about good writing. Take their advice and slowly cultivate your talent. The best part about podcasts is you can listen to them while you drive, walk, or exercise.
Identifying why you Write
To start learning how to write, you’ll want to understand why you’re doing it. Do you simply love sci-fi fiction and want to write one of your own? Or perhaps you’re itching to give people a better romance than the millions of same-y books out there.
Knowing why you’re writing can help you learn along the way. People who can channel their passion into words are more likely to finish their project and improve upon it. Find what causes you to sit down and embrace it.
Over time, you’ll grow as a writer when your enthusiasm to finish your project does.
So when can writing not be taught?
While I’m a firm believer writing can be taught, here’s when it can’t be:
- You’re not 100%. If you don’t consistently practice or make a plan to improve, it might be difficult to get the results you want. It’s hard to improve without putting your all and setting goals for yourself.
- You don’t listen to the information. It’s true that not everyone is a good source on the internet. Sometimes, articles might not even teach you the best way to go about improving your craft. However, you should listen to common themes: they’re probably true.
- You don’t actually want to be a writer. If you think about writing but never do it, you might not be as dedicated as you once thought. That’s why you should evaluate what’s important to you and if you actually want to learn.
Go forward: writing can be taught!
It can be challenging to learn how to write at first, but with time and effort you’ll dramatically improve.
So don’t asking yourself “can writing be taught?” anymore. Take initiative and say “how can I teach myself to be a better writer today?”