Look around you and you will find the world offering you courses to learn every single skill. There are courses that promise to teach you to paint and knit, repair computers and swim. It sometimes appears as if all the skills in the world have been packaged into easy to digest components and marketed. If all these courses did as they promised and turned the rawest of talent into polished writers, painters and translators, wouldn’t the world be overflowing with people equipped to do these things?
Does that mean that these courses don’t deliver on their promises?
Not at all.
The courses are prepared by experts and taught by experts too. But what of the students drinking in the instructions, making careful notes of secret tips and bits of advice? How many of them really want to write? How many of them are willing to face the grueling process of writing, rewriting, editing and then submitting to various editors?
I have nothing against creative writing courses. In fact, I’ve done one myself. I was a model student, turning in my assignments on time and I did reasonably well. But between the completion of the course and the first story I wrote, three long years stretched. Why didn’t I write as soon as I finished the creative writing course? After all, I was pumped full of the most useful bits of suggestions, I had been taught the components of various kinds of writing.
The simple reason is that I wrote only when I was ready to do so.
Does that mean you sit around waiting to be struck on the back of the head by a heavy object and understand that this is the signal to begin writing? You could, if you wish to but a better way to spend the time would be to prepare to be a writer by reading and writing.
Fortunately, there is no list of prescribed books that you have to read in order to be a writer. The world is your bookshelf and you are free to pick anything that strikes your fancy. The best part – you don’t have to justify your choices. You could pick up a book because you like the author’s name or are fascinated by the title. Or you could pick one because you like the cover or font. All you have to ensure is that you read. A lot.
Writing helps too. It helps by telling you when you should stop reading and start reading. Or you might well turn into one of those people who spend their lives reading in preparation for the book they plan to write.
Sit down and write. It could be a short story, an article or simply something that you feel very strongly about. The process of putting pen to paper, or in today’s world, typing your words out, will break the chain of reading books.
And push you onto the first step of becoming a writer.
By writing something.