View Full Version : Natural Writers

09-11-2008, 12:21 AM
What made you a writer? Was it a natural talent or were you taught to write?

09-11-2008, 12:25 AM
What made you a writer?

The Devil.


Ageless Stranger
09-11-2008, 12:27 AM
Natural talent, is a rare thing indeed, and it can be pretty disastrous if someone believes that they have it. As for being taught, I think everyone is taught to some extent, by the books they read, the stories they write, and by others, such as this board. I fall into the latter category, and I wouldn't have it any other way. Talent's good, but I prefer to learn. It's a pretty rewarding experience to watch your skill improve over time.

09-11-2008, 12:35 AM
What made you a writer? Was it a natural talent or were you taught to write?
I don't think it was a natural talent but it was a natural passion. I loved to read and write from the first moment I could do either one.

09-11-2008, 12:40 AM
For me it's what I love, If nothing comes of it other than my enjoyment, so be it - but hell - I'm gonna try my darndest!!

09-11-2008, 12:42 AM
For me, I was exposed to some authors that really amazed me and then I knew that is what I wanted to do.
Natural talent, is a rare thing indeed, and it can be pretty disastrous if someone believes that they have it.
I completely disagree with this. I think you NEED natural talent, then you can be TAUGHT the rules. But I know many people who know the rules but can't write cohesively to save their lives. They don't have the natural talent for it.

09-11-2008, 12:44 AM

Ageless Stranger
09-11-2008, 12:51 AM
For me, I was exposed to some authors that really amazed me and then I knew that is what I wanted to do.
I completely disagree with this. I think you NEED natural talent, then you can be TAUGHT the rules. But I know many people who know the rules but can't write cohesively to save their lives. They don't have the natural talent for it.

I agree with you. Natural talent is very important. But it can be very dangerous if someone believes that they possess it, especially if they allow it to blind them to the learning side of writing. Still, I do believe natural talent is rare. Most of us read voraciously before we wrote, and learned a great deal from that, which in turn teaches us to pick up on certain things, to recognise what we like, and what we don't like. Read enough, and you're already half-way to being a writer.

09-11-2008, 12:52 AM
I think you can be a natural writer, even a literary genius, without it doing you much good. There are geniuses who write one book and stop, or are so incapable of facing rejection or criticism that they quit too soon.

On the other hand, there are people with just a little talent who read all the time, take classes, use constructive criticism to improve, practice like crazy, listen to good advice, and promote their books well enough that they end up bestselling authors.

I'd actually kinda prefer to be the latter, since I'm more proud of things for which I work my ass off.

09-11-2008, 12:53 AM
Someone thought it was a good idea to teach me how to type. This, combined with my introverted nature, had the unfortunate consequence of leaving me in front of a computer screen with nothing to do but figure out how the Internet works. So not only did I start coding (shudder) but now I'm also a writer and I'm guaranteed to never be allowed back into society. Not that I'd want to be....

09-11-2008, 01:04 AM
Most of us read voraciously before we wrote, and learned a great deal from that, which in turn teaches us to pick up on certain things, to recognise what we like, and what we don't like. Read enough, and you're already half-way to being a writer.
I didn't read voraciously before I wrote. I hated reading, until, as I said above, I found those authors that really spoke to me. And the instant I found them, I also started writing.

I'm not saying voracious reading won't improve your writing, I'm just saying that in my case voracious reading wasn't the impetus.

09-11-2008, 01:11 AM
For me, I was exposed to some authors that really amazed me and then I knew that is what I wanted to do.
I completely disagree with this. I think you NEED natural talent, then you can be TAUGHT the rules. But I know many people who know the rules but can't write cohesively to save their lives. They don't have the natural talent for it.
I totally agree with this. I was a natural storyteller, but my writing was too technical. I'm very happy that someone is taking the time to help me improve my craft.

09-11-2008, 01:24 AM
Moved from Novels to Roundtable.

09-11-2008, 01:49 AM
I learnt to read when I was three and started writing when i was four. So for me, it's a lifelong thing - I would like to say there is some 'natural talent' but I'd attribute a large portion of that to being a voracious reader. I also have a degree in creative writing and editing so I have definitely been taught as well.

09-11-2008, 01:50 AM
I was taught the technical skills like grammar and spelling and some things to improve style and such, but as for writing itself, it was something I just chose to do. And in truth, the technical aspects are the only useful things anyone ever actively taught me. The rest I learned on my own.

More than "natural talent," I think one needs a "natural desire to write." Even inborn talent is useless without that drive. There are some people whose writing will be poor no matter how much they learn, but their desire to improve is something to admire. Their writing will have a passion that a talented person with no real desire to write will lack.

09-11-2008, 02:45 AM
In my experience with writers' groups and doing betas, there are "natural" writers. These are the people who seem to have absorbed grammar, style and more advanced fictional techniques through regular reading and who early on produce manuscripts that are markedly smoother and better structured than those of other beginners.

By "regular" reading, I mean all fiction and nonfiction EXCEPT grammar primers and instructional books on writing. The absorption process is the "natural" part, as it appears to happen without conscious study and analysis.

All writers learn, of course. But after the rudiments of reading and writing are achieved, some do seem to pick up craft by unstudied example more readily. That said, I think most "naturals" will benefit as much from study as "nonnaturals," as they will gain a greater understanding of what they're doing and what they want to do.

It's difficult for me to explain this sense I have, and the word "natural" and its implied opposite are thorny concepts. I think of something Lawrence Block wrote, how early in his life he wrote such plausible fiction in the first draft that he didn't edit as much as he did later on, to the probable detriment of the early works (which were still plausible enough to sell.)

09-11-2008, 02:47 AM
I started writing at age 11. It's just a part of me.

09-11-2008, 03:04 AM
I think this belongs in the sandbox or the roundtable forum?

Which is not to say I have talent...just the desire to write.


09-11-2008, 03:21 AM
What made you a writer? Was it a natural talent or were you taught to write?

I dunno, my mom always said "writers write" meaning you can't be a writer if you don't write.

I think I was inspired to write by my 4th grade teacher Mrs. Stapleton. I was encouraged to keep going by many others. Whether I actually have any talent is for someone else to judge, as for me, I just love to write and I'm still being taught every day.

09-11-2008, 03:25 AM
Andre Dumas described a good writer as a person who simply observes more than others. I agree. "Normal" people see a woman standing on a corner. A writer sees the tread hanging down from the hem of her skirt, the scuffs on the back of her right shoe from driving, how often she's blinking, the texture of the skin on the backs of her hands and at the corners of her mouth, and that she needs to have her roots retouched.

Then there's storytelling, which is either in us or it's not. One can obviously be illiterate and be a natural storyteller.

And as much as we all would like to make millions writing, the sheer need to envelope not just ourselves, but others in our stories, would be paramount. But the millions wouldn't hurt.

09-11-2008, 03:44 AM
I've been storytelling, via acting primarily, for most of my life. I teach sunday school and youth at my church and frequently retell the bible stories in my own dramatic fashion as a one man show. I do the same for my kids with their bed time stories, acting out the books I read, or preferrably for both me and them, making up the story as we go along.

Natural talent and a fairly boring childhood conspired to provide the ability. But that isn't what made me start writing in earnest. That took time and impetus.

A little over two years ago, my job got really boring. I had a ton of empty time on my hands and only so many online training courses my brain could handle. Then, at a stop light on my way to work one morning a character literally appeared in my head.

A man in his late forties, wearing a blue jumpsuit, with a graying flat top haircut, on one knee, sweat dripping from his nose. That man became Karl Alexander, the main character of my first novel Karl's Last Flight which became a modestly successful podcast, even though it hasn't sold yet. Since then I have written and podcasted two more full novels and a short story anthology.

All it took to get me started was the time and the spark that accelerated the already running engine.

Danger Jane
09-11-2008, 04:52 AM
Sure, I have talent, if by "talent" you mean "an innate desire to do X (in this case, write fiction), which, with sufficient discipline, naturally leads to improvement at doing X."

This is a dangerous topic, as I've learned in my tenure here at AW. I believe that, since certain traits combine to make certain skills, and certain traits seem to be innate in some people (although many if not all can be learned and in many if not all cases to a comparable degree, if not a superior one, to the person who naturally had that trait), "talent" can be natural. This holds true, at the very least, for my personal experience. I also hardly believe that someone can be naturally so good at something that they A) don't require practice or B) will always be better than someone with less "natural" talent but who worked hard(er).

Convoluted post/10?

09-11-2008, 08:31 AM
What made me a writer (as much as I qualify, which is not at all) is a love of literature and writing and a desire to contribute to the community that has given me so much.

Asking how much of what makes you write is natural talent is a tricky question. I don't know who, if anybody, could answer that question about themself. To ask what we believes makes a writer a good writer is another question entirely. I don't want to be persnickety, but it's true.

Ms Hollands
09-11-2008, 11:21 AM
I am bad with numbers, but I talk a lot. So, a career in writing was the only way forward. :Sun:

09-11-2008, 01:03 PM
Since I can remember, I have had a passion for airplanes. When I took my first lesson, my tush melted into the seat, my palm into the yoke, and I was home.

On a cross-country flight, I looked at the map, at the ground, and back again. Something was off, but I couldn't place it. Was I lost? Not really. I felt lost. I knew I was around this (circling the map with my finger) area, but not far off.


I firmly pushed the yoke over with my right hand, leaning left into the door for effect. How did I make that 15 degree right turn too early?

Today, I have a commercial certificate, 255 flight hours, and I'm sure 3 times as many mistakes I have learned from.

Lesson? I believe I had a natural gift, on top of the natural passion. We are still human, and still make mistakes, and still need to learn to hone and perfect our crafts.

09-11-2008, 01:13 PM
Once upon a time, when I was teenager,I couldn't find the YA book which I really want to read.
So I decided to write it by myself and while I was writing, I realised how it's amazing to create my own world and share it with the other people.
That what made me writer

09-11-2008, 01:51 PM
I've thought about this off and on for a long time and I'm still not sure. I've always loved books and having an older brother and a dad who felt the same obviously had an influence. Put those two with reading constantly all my life and a couple of great teachers...and here I am. Mr Writer.

09-11-2008, 02:25 PM
Lifelong reader, yes. A lot of opinions about what I liked and didn't like about the stories I read. Paid attention, probably too much, to everything around me. Not the slightest clue about the writing experience until my first story attacked me and demanded I write it. The first sentence was there, but what do I do after that? Do I have to write tons of descriptive prose, considering how much I hate that stuff? Do I have to study all sorts of esoteric subjects in the name of world-building? But I kept going, to write a story that first of all pleased me to read. Only after it was done did I even think about publication. Then the second book followed on the first. Then the third, the first one which didn't push to be written, and then I found out how hard it is to write, when I had to actually work at it.

09-12-2008, 04:07 AM
I don't know if one can define "natural talent." I had a desire to write. I was raised in an environment where art of any sort is valued and expressing ourselves was something we were expected to do. For me, that resulted in holding onto what I saw, felt, observed, or imagined, and writing it down. For any story or poem that got written, there were countless ideas that never made it past a sentence or two and dozens of stories that never got past the first chapter. I still remember those sentences and chapters, and am still sure there's a good story in there. It may not be mine to write.

I spent years in writing classes, which taught me a great deal, but I have learned almost as much (if not more) by reading, working with my writing cadre, and spending too many hours in AW threads. I doubt I could tell you whether talent, environment or education inform my writing more, because at this point, there's no way to separate them.

09-12-2008, 04:12 AM
What made you a writer? Was it a natural talent or were you taught to write?

My powerful drive and stubborness in becoming rich and famous . . .

Is what has made me write . . .

. . . :D

Ahaha, jokes aside, I think my inspiration comes from wishing to give people a different outlook on life. Give my books some good morals so the reader can learn and grow from it.

I was pretty much self-taught to write. Perhaps that's why I'm terrible. :D None of my English teachers (in my memory) have ever focused on proper story-telling.

09-12-2008, 06:21 AM
I love reading fantasy.

I love/ed writing story type essays (in school).

I was forced to write a Science Fiction story for a national competition(because no one else from my school volunteered). I got 9th prize! The funny thing was, I didn't make that much of an effort. So I thought that I may write somewhat well if I do make an effort.

I'm not sure where I stand of course. I've got both positive and negative comments from the Critique area of this site.

Creating a complex plot and writing is possibly the best thing I've done in my life. I'm only 11 000 words into my WIP. Its so much fun! My only problem is that it takes me several months to even outline a plot (primarily do to the problem of trying to avoid over used cliches. Ya I know cliches can be written uniquely etc.... but a cliche is a cliche.)

Mad Queen
09-12-2008, 07:09 AM
I love reading and I was frustrated that so far no writer has been able to write my perfect novel. Then I realised no writer would ever be able to write my perfect novel and decided to write it myself.

09-12-2008, 07:41 AM
I think for me it was something I always liked to do. I remember writing my first story in grade 1 - about a princess who poisons the wicked queen (clearly I loved Snow White). It was 4 pages long. The teacher put it up on the bulletin board with a gold star sticker and it made my year! I remember having some pretty great teachers along the way who encouraged me, as well as my mom. I learned a lot from them and am still learning. I don't know that I have the talent but I know I have the desire.

09-12-2008, 07:44 AM
reading made me do it!

09-12-2008, 08:03 AM
There was no precise moment when I decided I wanted to be a writer, but there was a single book that made me want to write.

It was called Shadow Castle and I read it on a weekly basis when I was about ten years old. I LOVED that book so much it fell apart. I started writing fan-fiction-like stories involving some of the characters and creatures in the book.

And then I started making up my own stories and characters. :)

09-12-2008, 08:26 AM
I think there is a certain amount of natural talent involved, yes. But it's amazing what people can learn from persistence. And talent can sometimes be buried. More than one of my kids has surprised me by developing talents I didn't know they had.

So I do think it's necessary, but there's no way I'm going to tell any of you that you don't have it.

09-12-2008, 03:49 PM
I read all the time. A few years ago, I decided to try my hand at writing articles for car magazines. Then, I decided to try writing a book. It was a natural progression.

09-12-2008, 03:55 PM
I started writing when I was off school sick one day at about 13 years old, and I watched a TV movie and knew that I could tell the story better. I always knew I enjoyed writing stories at school, but that's what started me off doing it at home.

And yes, I do think I've got natural talent. Especially when I compare my writing (even my old teenage attempts) to what some people post on some writing sites for feedback. Only thing I'm lacking is the ability to finish what I start :(

09-12-2008, 03:59 PM
I don't think anything made me want to become a writer, I have always been one.

Before I knew how to write, I was telling stories. I had lots of dolls and stuffed toys as a child, and I used to take a selection to bed with me every night. I remember that every night in bed, I used to make up a story about one of my toys to tell myself before I fell asleep. When I started sharing a room with my sister, I would tell them to her - asking her who and what she wanted the story to be about. I think I was about 6 or 7 at that point.

I tend to say that I didn't choose writing, it chose me. Which sounds rather arrogant, but it's true.


09-12-2008, 07:20 PM
My brother is musically inclined. He can play six instruments, and never took lessons to achieve this. He calls it self-taught. He also can draw. But he's never focused on his talents, using them more for recreational fun. Now his son is following in his footsteps, only with this one, my brother is encouraging to see where it may lead. Many say my brother gets his talent from my dad, who was the same with music. My other brother is a math genius, chemical engineer. Math was my worse subject. Music for me spurred me into the world of the performing arts. I danced seven days a week, my father taking on two jobs to allow this. It paid off in the end, but it was not my strongest passion.

I have a vividly active mind. It was a curse growing up as it spawned many a nightmarish struggle during my dreaming. I would wake often screaming at the top of my lungs that woke our house and brought everyone at run into my room. My parents had a terrible time with this, not knowing what to do to stop the dreams, nor understanding what caused them. I'm glad no one really tried. If they had, I doubt I'd be writing now.

One day, I think I was 12, my dad bought me a book of lined paper and a pen. He sat down and told me, write your dreams, no matter what they're about, write them. So even if parts were unclear, I did just that. He read them and I'll never forget his face.

"You dreamt this? Good Lord, child!"

But it was strange, after having poured myself out and onto paper, I discovered that I had gained control over my dreams and my mind, so continued to write. I no longer worried about sleeping and dreaming. It had oddly enough become my muse.

When I turned fourteen, my dad bought me a typewriter. I entered many contests and won. I worked on my craft. I had something, my dad used to say, just not sure what it was. My teachers agreed. Is it natural? I'm not sure. I certainly wouldn't recommend all start this way. I think every craft needs to be worked on, natural or not, to become something more of itself. My writing was also a therapy and coping strategy against something that I couldn't control. Of course, the dreams are very different now, more subtle, less violent and few and far inbetween.

I was encouraged to write horror, but I fell in love with fantasy and thrillers. I did try new genres now and then to see how I would do.

My first Sci Fi, which was a complete bust was born from a nightmare. Until the day he passed, he would tease me about THAT one being born of indigestion, but hey! We all have at least one of those?

;) God! I sound psychotic! hahahahahahaha

Think I'll put this on my blog!

09-12-2008, 08:31 PM
My view on talent has always been you either have it or you don't. Talent can't be learned, but if buried and dormant, it can be nurtured and blossom.

I equate writing talent to other great creative talents.

Singing. I have no talent. No amount of schooling or practicing has ever made me into a singer, even in the bathtub.

Guitar. I have taken lessons and practiced and I'm passionate about music, but I don't have the talent. I can play well. But no one is going to confuse me for someone with real talent, like Steve Vai, or Jeff Beck, or Eric Clapton.

Art. No matter how much schooling I've taken, no matter how much I've tried, my artistic talent is rudimentary at best. I will never ever reach Monet status, much less Jack Kirby status.

Writing. I've read vorasciously. I practice vorasciously. I'm passionate about it. I've taken classes in HS and College, workshops, etc. I've had a couple short stories published. Whoopdedo. My writing isn't bad, some might even consider it good, but obviously as of today, since I'm still struggling, I haven't tapped into the talent yet. At this point, I'm no Dostoevski or Stephen King or even a Dan Brown. Maybe I DON'T have the talent. I'm leaning to that more and more with each rejection.

So that's my opinion. You can't succeed without talent. Many may think they got there by hard work and practice and a stubborness to not give up, but I maintain you wouldn't have gotten anywhere if you didn't have the talent in the first place.

09-12-2008, 10:35 PM
I feel like I'm built for writing. If only because I'm not great at anything else. I can crunch numbers, sure. But I'm not particularly good with people, and there are few people who I can spend long amounts of time with. I need to spend long amounts of time - thinking, daydreaming, wandering - to keep myself happy. I have ideas to share with other people, but I'd be perfectly happy to be a hermit and never see another person in my life. So...writing seems like the perfect outlet.

Writing seemed like a natural bodily function when I was young. If I wasn't writing, I was daydreaming about my characters, working through plot points or figuring out their backstories. Sadly, I somehow got out of that habit for about a decade (too beaten down by the rest of people around me who think writing is a deviant behavior) and now I'm still having trouble getting back into it.

I guess it's like some people are born to have long legs and so long as they live near a field somewhere they'll figure out they're meant to run. But if they grow up in some congested urban neighbourhood, they might never run as a kid. Then one day, they're 25 or 35 or 45, running for a bus, and they're like... hey, that was great. I should do that more. It's harder at that age to then pick up running as a habit, but if you've got the genes and the discipline you can make it work.

Alpha Echo
09-12-2008, 10:50 PM
I'd say it's a natural LOVE not a natural TALENT.

I've always loved to write, and so I've always written, and with practice, I've slowly improved.

09-12-2008, 11:32 PM
I was recently in a discussion about where inspiration comes from for writing. Is it something that you sit down and plot out. Draw outlines. Timelines. Notes. Have all of your characters been fleshed out and are they ready to go before the story starts.

Well, maybe many writers do just that. Perhaps even most writers do. But to be honest, that's just not how it happens for me.

All of the stories I have thus far written were based on either spontaneous images that popped into my mind or dreams that I had. The writing just flowed from that point.

For the drafts I just sat in front of the computer and typed what come out of my finger tips. I would actually end up running out of time to write with story still spilling from mind. On the occasion that I got stuck on a particular plot or detail, I'd go outside take a walk for a mile or two and by the time I got back the story started rolling again.

In other words, the stories come to life practically on their own.

What caused that to happen? I would contribute it to at least three factors.

1. A boring childhood.
-I grew up in a family whose primary activities were work and television. Work was whatever you did all day, and after we'd plop down and watch TV until bedtime, with a break for dinner at 5. Little in the way of extra-curricular activities (I did do scouting for a few years, once week or so for a couple of hours) until my high school years when I joined the theater group.

2. Insomnia
-since I was a little kid I have often had a hard time fallign asleep or staying asleep at night. Many hours of my childhood were spent staring into the darkness.

3. a vivid imagination
-as a six year old I remember going to bed at 8pm and laying there listening to the voices from the television in the living room. I watched in my mind every episode of Columbo, The 6-Million Dollar Man, and Hawaii 5-0. Then I would act out my own episodes after my parents went to bed at 11.

By the time I hit high school I could do improvisational acting at the drop of a hat. Give me a character, and a scene...or even just a prop or an empty stage and I could give you thirty minutes of whatever came to mind. I even did a bit of standup and improv comedy for a couple years as an adult, but never really took it far...not a good family lifestule for the most part.

The improv acting continues today. I regularly do shows for my church organization of about a hundred and fifty teens. They are monologue acts telling the story of Biblical or historical characters. I seldom use a script, and have few props, usually just a grey wool blanket and a walking stick for ancient characters, a chair or an article of clothing (hat or umbrella, etc) for modern characters. I pretty much just wing it. I do of course already know the story and have read it many times to be familiar with the characters, but as any actor will tell you the story or book is not a script.

My writing and my acting seem to come from the same fountain. Both are spontaneously created entities that come to life and flesh themselves before my very eyes, or the eyes of my audience.

Is natural as in genetic? Probably not.

Is it natural as in a product of environment? I'd say so.

09-13-2008, 01:15 AM
I think there's always an element of both. I have a natural attraction to stories and am always making them up myself, whether written or simply imagined. At the same time I would not have accomplished anything in writing had I not been dedicated enough to it to work first to learn it in the first place and then to work to improve. My first stories were riddled with mistakes. The truth is that it takes both innate abilities and a drive to want to write as well as the time and the effort of writing itself in order to become a good writer. Without practice, you will not improve (and we all need to improve) but without those natural drives you won't be willing to put in that effort in the first place.

09-13-2008, 01:29 AM
I believe that for many occupations, the successful are those who are born with "something" and without this, no amount of training or learning is going to turn them into something special in that field. However, those who do have a talent or leaning towards a particular ability must work to mould this into the final product.
I remember saying to a friend at college who was struggling, that the outcome (exam passes) should be viewed as "ability" multiplied by "work". Therefore, if you had less of one, you had to make sure the other was considerably more so the result was favourable. He turned to me and said "Fine. But you know what happens if you multiply something by zero."
For once, I couldn't think what to say. :flag:

09-13-2008, 02:47 AM
What made you a writer? Was it a natural talent or were you taught to write?

I wrote my first story at age 7 I think. It was three pages long and riddled with epic spelling errors. I wrote my first novel at 12 (in coloured texta on blank paper), spent a couple of years dabbling with picture books and short stories then in high school discovered the internet and joined some message boards and started becoming really serious about writing. Since then I've written two novels, one novella and three short stories. I almost got one of my shorts published this year. It got rejected because the magazine in question didn't like one scene....arrrgghh....so close!! I've always been a story teller. What made me a writer was probably the isolation I suffered at school. I had no friends so I started writing to entertain myself. I remember the day I decided I wanted to get published. It was a sunday afternoon and I was bored. I told my mum proudly that I was going to get published one day. She muttered "Uh huh" and went off to do the rest of the washing. lol.

Mad Queen
09-13-2008, 03:03 AM
This topic has reminded me of the first book I wrote when I was a child. It was called 'The mummy's secret' and its last sentence was a plot twist: the MC's best friend and helper was the mummy.