You do not choose to become a writer; the writing chooses you.

The other day, I came across a person, who said she wanted to write a book, but had no idea where to start. On asking, it turned out that it wasn’t the case that she had an idea, bit did not quite know how to start her story, but she simply had no ideas for stories; she just wanted to be a writer, because other people were writers and it seemed a nice idea.

Now, this person was extreme, of course, yet there are countless people who pick creative writing courses at university, usually because they have no clue what else to do, and believe they can become writers that way.

Another recent notion I came across was people who believe that having an idea for a story makes them a writer, but they’d like to hire a ghost writer to write it for them. That would be the same as me having the idea that I would like my son’s portrait painted, but ask somebody else to do the painting, so I can call myself a painter, or that I would be a doctor, because I send somebody to the GP when I think they have a cold.

Having ideas is the simple part. One idea might turn into a story or book, but most natural born writers have so many ideas they cannot hope to ever turn them all into stories. Natural born writers don’t need to ask somebody to help them find something to write about; they have no choice but to write, just like natural composers get tunes in their head and they have to play them.

On a similar note, ghost writers can probably write, but as long as you have to trade on somebody else’s already famous name to make it, it is questionable whether it is the quality of the writing that did it. On the other hand, all writers need help getting noticed, regardless of the quality of writing. But very often a famous author gets old or dies and their books keep being published, usually with a significant quality drop or else with a different style. However, because ghostwriters do not have to do any world or character building, which is one of the most important things of fiction writing, it is more like being a fan fiction writer, because with as the only difference that you have permission of the original author, usually for financial motivations.

Of course, not everybody who has ideas needs to be a writer, either. There are plenty of people with fantastic stories to tell, who do this better in film or as story tellers of another kind. In other cultures and other times, the latter were more accepted.

And, of course, you can be a non-fiction writer, which many people can do about their own topic of interest, although the research and follow through also requires a lot of commitment.

What I am saying is this: Most people accept that being a painter or musician is a talent people are born with, even if others can also learn the basics. So it is with writing, and with all non-artistic jobs as well, because each person has certain natural inclinations they are born with and which help them notice things (like ideas for stories), but writing is more than just having the idea; it is creating the setting, the characters and the plot and letting the characters lead you in telling the story. It is hours and hours of editing and rewriting, and it is something you become totally immersed in and cannot do quickly on the side.

Today, everybody can create a book, but most are just repeating what has been done a million times; everybody can record music, and I am sure natural born musicians have the same issue with the invasion of their skill set by this ease of access. But creating a book is not being a writer unless you actually created the story as well.

What I am saying, is that you do not choose to be a writer (or painter or musician), but it chooses you. You have no choice; you probably did it since you were young, even as a hobby, and it won’t stop, even if you try to. It comes naturally; you don’t have to ask others for ideas – but only for technical advice – and you don’t become a writer because it is popular, but because you already are a writer, a story-teller, from the moment you were born.

Thank you for reading.

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