I was speaking to a friend the other day and it really got my brain buzzing.
In short, the conversation had to do with a rather delicate social issue; racism in America and how its misconstrued not only by the 'bigoted' party but by the parties who try so hard to fix the problem that they essentially make it worse. I won't go into the finer details, but the friend in question was incredibly passionate and started talking at length about wanting to write a book on the topic as a means to help educate others on the idea. As I understood it, he'd already worked within a lecture environment a couple of times and wanted to put his thoughts on paper.
The question that I directed at him? Why didn't he?
There was some brief back and forth, but the cliche that we reached is the same one that I've actually started to hear more and more as the years press on.
"Well, I never really studied English in school/college.", or "I didn't take any writing classes.", and even "I'm not sure if I'd do any good."
I bet you know the point I'm about to make, but I feel it needs to be said.
Writing is a window into your soul; into your passions and your love and your hate. It gives a platform to stand on, a boom mic in one hand, and a flag in the other. Much as painting, drawing, singing, poetry, and any other creative expression in the world, writing is just another means of putting yourself out there, for better or for worse, for you and the world to see and understand where you're coming from. It can be done for a purpose, like I hope my friend will, or it can be done because your brain is often too full of nonsense and needs to be drained, like I often deal with.
However, what it does not require, is a Doctorate in English.
While I'm sure my older sister would disagree, as would any Doctors in the Subject, let me explain.
Writing, like anything in the world can be learned. There are classes that will help and there are people that can lead you, but that doesn't mean you are restricted to sitting at a desk listening to some professor drone on and on about the theory of subjective adjectives. Everyone learns in a different way and no two learning methods will be useful for any two given people.
I provide myself as example.
Now first, let me accept that I'm no Shakespeare. I don't doubt I'd benefit from classic training, but as it stands the extent of my "writing classes" are some high school English classes THAT I HATED WITH A PASSION. Everything else has been self taught. Hell, if you were really bored enough, you could follow that learning process just by going back and reading some of my old content and moving forward through time. You can observe my improvements (or failures) even over the course of a year with just an afternoon of reading and a large pot of tea.
The reason I bring this up though, is more and more recently, my friends refer to me as being a writer. Not that I mind, but I've realized they do this as a means of separation, not necessarily as a recognition. It's a means of saying "You know more than I do on this subject" and while I would love that to mean what it sounds like, it's meant as a degradation of their own character and capability rather than a reflection of my own.
In short, they feel that there is something special that they lack; some training or understanding that they never received that I somehow did.
This brings me nicely to my point: that's horseshit.
While I could probably write a book on WHY it's fucking stupid to degrade yourself into believing you missed some crucial college course to being successful in something you love; or I could simply sit here and stroke egos and spout cliches about 'just go do it', I'll just share how "I go do it" as an example.
One: I read. A lot.
But probably not what you think.
I do indeed have a shit-ton of books at my house. I have a lot on my kind and audible account too (as mentioned in my previous post). But writing isn't necessarily all about reading novels. I have read web comics religiously and I'm sure I will again in the future. I also read actual comics; Dark Horse, Marvel, DC...whatever. I read the news. I read blogs (as I'm sure plenty of you know). I read captions. I read letters. I read bills. I. Read. If there is written word, paying attention to what is being said and how it is said will give you an insight into writing.
To that point: Difficult reading DOES NOT EQUAL good writing. That's not to say there are classics that aren't loquacious and verbose as a dictionary smoothie; but always consider what those words MEAN. Why use "chronic periscapular hyperalgesia" when you could say "shoulder pain"? A well worn thesaurus isn't always a good thing.
Two: I write.
No shit, right?
But that doesn't mean I sit here punch out novels. Any of my normal followers can tout that I'm a horrible human being with an incapability of keeping a schedule.
No, instead, just as mentioned before, I simply let words flow. This wordy and astute piece of silliness is a perfect example. I will scribble down articles and content for no one in particular. I will write down a comment or question, just to see it. Hell, my biggest help is probably the weirdest: I host Dungeons and Dragons because it lets me concoct stories for my players to get through.
In short. I just write.
Lastly: I listen.
There are better writers. There are better authors and publishers and editors and people who HAVE studied and HAVE done things I will never accomplish. These people are not my enemy. I trust many of them to be professionally and painfully honest. I listen to their complaints and criticisms and I read their comments when they bleed the red-pen of death across the page and I consider it. Some might be mean and personal, but some might have astute information you've never considered.
So, in conclusion, just let yourself be. Let yourself read and write and or draw and paint or build a bike or whatever you want to do! Sometimes classes help, sometimes they don't. Sometimes you can teach yourself something, sometimes you can't. Be open to the experience around you and inside you and let yourself push forward. You'll be surprised by what you can do.