Being able to write well is more than a basic skill
Everyone can write. It is one of the basic skills that are being taught in schools. A day will not pass without us engaging in some sort of writing (a simple note, for example). Indeed, one doesn’t have to be a literary genius in order to be able to compose a letter, a report, or even a brief essay. However, it is one thing to be able to write and it is another thing to be able to do it well.
Most people may have the basic skill to put their thoughts into written words, but not everyone can do it after the manner of the great literary gurus such as Shakespeare, Cervantes, Rowling, Tolkien, and others. It takes more than a basic skill to be able to write something that will at least approximate, if not match at all, the quality of the world’s greatest literary masterpieces. The basic skills for writing such as having knowledge of the methods and styles and structures of it can be acquired through formal study. But one must know also how to put them all together in real-world or in practice.
Otherwise, such knowledge avails not. It can be compared to a person who knows all the ingredients of his favorite dish but doesn’t know how to cook it (let’s call it “putting all the ingredients together”). Now, this is something that can only be learned or developed through constant practice, that is, through experience. Experience is not a skill that can be taught in schools; one has to be willing to embrace it or be embraced by it. Yes, indeed. Experience doesn’t come to those who are not willing to take risks, to those who are not bold enough to brave the waves of public opinion and thus submit their works to the scrutiny of the people.
The more open a writer is to the criticisms of the public eye, the more he becomes relevant and timeless. For writers are, in a lot of ways, spokespersons of the people and their works a reflection of their sentiments.
A question might then be asked: why would a writer be not willing to be molded by experience, in the context of what was previously stated? There might be several answers but I would like to say that he who refuses to go through the scrutiny of the public eye is lacking in passion for his chosen craft. The literary greats of all time became greats not only because of their technical skills but also because they were very passionate about what they were doing.
When one is overflowing with passion for his craft, he opens his door for everything – from friendly and constructive criticisms to senseless fault findings and even to character assassination. You just don’t care what people might say or how they might react to your piece; all that matters to you is that you gave your heart and soul to your work and you want to share it to them. Not because you are coveting their praises but because you know they can be helped, in one way or the other, by your work.
Clearly, then, the evidence is pointing to the truth of our thesis – being able to write well is more than a basic skill!
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