Writing: nature or nurture?

Is the ability to write a skill you learn or a natural talent? I’ve been writing for 30 years and this question has always fascinated me. Many writers believe that writing is a skill anyone can learn and strickly speaking, they’re probably right. But I’m not entirely satisfied with that answer. So I decided to cruise the internet in search of the answer to the nature nurture question, more specifically, I wanted to know what makes a good writer? The conclusion I’ve drawn is that no one is an expert and that there are as many answers as there are writers.  Still, I suspect writing well depends on more than just knowledge of grammar and writing techniques or a vivid imagination. Being a good writer means being a good story teller, a good observer and a good reader – all these attributes are important for creating prose others want to read. But it is probably even more complex: being a good writer is about what’s inside your head. The human brain is a highly complex system and presumably is responsible for character, behaviour and how we interact with he world. The way the brain develops is determined by biological as well as environmental factors – your genes, your time in the womb, your early childhood, your diet, your language and culture, the century you were born in, where you live, your first date, how well you sleep, who your family are, how your eyes see the world, your tastebuds, what you read, when you read, where you’ve been, what you want, whether you drink coffee or take baths – all of it effects how the inside of your head develops, thus it effects who you are as a writer. It seems there is so much that goes into the making of a writer – of anyone for that matter – but ultimately it starts with your brain and how it responds to external stimulus. The ability to write well is a skill, a talent and a product of personal history.


About Sharon

Writer, bibliophile, dreamer and student of everything
This entry was posted in ME ON WRITING, The writer and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Writing: nature or nurture?

  1. I am an old Doc cruisng around your blog, and I enjoy your thoughts.

    My wife always says, “There is no such thing as talent.” I said that’s ’cause she’s been hanging around me too many years!

    Of course what she means is we all have to work at it. I think some folks have the potential but without the practice no one ever gets to see it.

    By this age, I’ve made so many mistakes I’ve given up being hard on myself. Still though, my motto is “Just ’cause I can’t be perfect ain’t gonna stop me from trying.”

    Dr. B

  2. vanyieck says:

    I hear what you’re saying about the nature versus nurture of writing. I believe certain people have an inclination to write. My brother has a PhD, a degree which demands a great deal of writing. One day he confessed to me that he didn’t really enjoy writing. It was a necessary evil. He found more enjoyment in teaching. It isn’t that he can’t write, or write at a high level. He doesn’t do very much writing now because it isn’t something he particularly enjoys.

    • thesunlitdesk says:

      I loved academic writing when I was at university but it is a completely different kettle of fish from creative writing and in some ways much more challenging – so I certainly understand your brother’s aversion – in essence you’re writing for an audience that already knows everything.

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