An apprenticeship in any trade or craft is a valuable learning opportunity. Even if you do not have an official apprenticeship as such, it is sensible to regard the learning phase of any new job as an apprenticeship, and apply yourself to it.
All trades take time to learn. Would you let a novice build your house, drill your teeth, or design your car? Of course not. You would expect someone who had spent time learning and developing the necessary skills.
Like all great crafts, writing also takes time to learn.
It is strange that some people expect to be able to pick up a pen, or tap out some words on their computer keyboard, and create some stunning piece of writing within their first effort or two. If they aren’t satisfied with their work, or someone criticises it, these people give up and deem themselves to be a failure! Surely, they think, their failed attempts prove they were never meant to be a writer. However, failure is a part of life and learning.
How many of us like to laugh at the ‘bloopers’ sometimes seen at the end of a movie or DVD? Those bloopers demonstrate that actors don’t always get it right first time. While they’re funny, if all the failed attempts were shown before the movie started, you’d probably never watch it at all!
One reason why some would-be writers are so prone to condemning themselves as failures is an understandable confusion between being able to write, and being a writer. Assuming you gained literacy skills in your early education, you will have learned how to put words together to make sense, and that’s a good start to being a writer of course. However, this skill level and interest is not the same as journalism or book-writing, for example.
How is being a ‘writer’ different from someone who simply can write?
Professional skills take time and correct education to develop. If a person says ‘I would like to become a chef’ but hardly ever bothers to cook or even read books about how to do so – you would have good reason to assume the would-be chef’s desire is not for real, wouldn’t you?
Here are some ways a writer shows him or herself to be a true apprentice of the craft.
- desires to communicate something of value to others. This desire is an important aspect. If you really don’t want to write or feel you have very good reason to do so, then, no matter how good you may be at communicating, you are unlikely to apply yourself to writing.
- will spend time and effort practising and developing the required skills.
- will seek to learn from others who have achieved success in the craft
- will persevere against obstacles, recognising that most writers have had to face similar struggles,
Remember: Apprenticeships take time – so be patient, and keep at it.