Susanne Dunlap

Anyone can write a book: True or False?

In Uncategorized on August 9, 2010 at 11:07 am

This is just a very brief question to which I’d like lots of answers. There’s a side of me that says, “If I can do it, anyone can do it.” Then there’s another side that says, “That’s absurd: not everyone has the imagination, and if they have the imagination, they often lack the discipline.”

That said, I’m of the mind that if you have an idea, the will to make it work, and the desire to learn and accept criticism, you can write a book. Possibly even a good book. Occasionally even a great book.

What do you all think?

  1. I am so glad you asked this question, Susanne. I have often wondered this myself. I think you hit the nail on the head when you mentioned imagination coupled with discipline. Without a marriage of the two, a person can not be a writer. But with time and the will to keep going, with the discipline to stay in the chair as long as it takes to create something worth reading, and with the ability to accept the criticism of the work that is necessary to make it better, writers can find their own strength and learn to wield that strength to build a fabulous book.

  2. Having taught writing for many years, I have come to the conclusion that the problem is much deeper that this. There is also a general command of language, a “verbal intelligence,” that differs so widely in people that I think we can no more say that anyone can write a book than we can say anyone can produce original scientific thinking or hit a ball out of the park. To communicate competently in writing is in reach of almost everyone, but competent communication can require as little as simple, grammatical sentences with a clear meaning. To write beyond that requires something I’m not sure everyone either naturally has or can develop.

  3. If your story lives within you and you know it must be told, then yes, as nothing else will quiet the imperious urge. But if not, it’s simply posturing and often times simply pretty to think so.

  4. Laurel, what a wonderful point. I never thought of “verbal intelligence” being a factor, but it so clearly is. I am so absorbed in the work I love that it never occurred to me that not everyone would be as happy writing as I am, much less have the “verbal intelligence” to do so. But just as I do not have an affinity for science and math, some do not have an affinity for the written word.

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