June 22, 2009

Great Writers Are Made - Bonnie Way

There seems to be a perception that great writers are born, not made. We picture our favourite author sitting at the computer—or at their desk, if they come from an earlier era—effortlessly transferring brilliant sentences and paragraphs from their mind to the screen or page. Their editor or publisher stands by, hanging on every word, eager to present it to the thousands of adoring fans who can’t wait to read it.

For those of us who are aspiring writers, it’s a depressing picture. We stare at our own messy prose and wonder why we think we can call ourselves “writers.” We see the rejection letters that pile up in our inboxes—if we manage to muster the courage to submit our stumbling prose to an editor’s harsh eye—and think that we’re utter failures who should really just give up, because we won’t ever be like ______ (insert your favourite author’s name).

But then we hear stories of writers who received rejection letters, took the suggestions to heart, kept working and learning and polishing, and finally, became published, best-selling authors. Authors who were clearly made, not born. And we think that maybe there’s hope for us too.

One author who inspires me in such a way is Lisa Samson. I’ve read only her first book and her most recent book. And the difference between those two is astounding. She’s clearly a writer who has worked hard at her craft. One who proves that you can learn how to write. She’ll admit that words don’t come easily to her, that she’d rather do almost anything else than write—and yet, she writes. She does the hard work to produce books that reach her readers.

So on the days you don’t want to write because you think your work will never be like _____’s, or the days when your writing seems to drag, think of that story you’ve heard about the writer (and I know you’ve heard the stories like I have) who got hundreds of rejections or the author who kept learning and improving. Maybe you have a few to share with us here, to inspire us to keep writing as you keep writing.


  1. As one of those who often wonders whatever possessed me to think that I could write, bless you for this word of encouragement.

  2. Lynda - I'm glad I could encourage you. I have those days of wondering too... :)


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