Sunday, November 13, 2005

Learning the Craft

I was chatting with one of the members of my thesis committee before my exam the other day, and she mentioned that she has a teenaged niece who is very much into writing. She and her friends apparently get together and just sit around writing. She says virtually 100% of their work is deriviative, but at this stage in the game, I really don't see a problem with that. Interestingly, my son and a group of his friends have been working on a "story" for quite some time now. I think they were originally going to do a movie script, but I haven't heard anything about that project in a while, so maybe it went by the wayside. One way or another, they had a great time being social and plotting out their tale, and I think that's great. I think that the desire to do this kind of writing from an early age is one mark of someone who has what it takes to be a writer later on in life. And if the stuff they write is completely unoriginal, what of it? The way to learn to write is to write.

And that's what I see as the real advantage in both of these teens' lives. You've got to write about a million words before you really get a handle on the mechanics of the craft of writing. They've got the talent, sure, but they don't know how to use it yet. There's no better way to learn than by simply writing. Even if they are writing what will likely be throw-away stuff, they are learning how to plot, how to develop a character, grammar, and all the other tools that we writers need in our toolbox -- and they are learning them ten years earlier than most writers do. That's good no matter how you look at it.

I see real talent in some of the things my son has written (and that's reading it as a critic, not as his dad). As I've said before, he still needs to learn the craft, but he's got a huge start on the art portion of writing. I wrote a bunch of things when I was his age, but then I got sidetracked into music and let it slide. He's already out-produced me as a teen. It's really tough to make it as a writer, so I'm trying to gently convince him that he's going to need a day job to pay the bills -- but there's no reason in the world why he can't become a professional writer if that's what he wants to be!

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