Being a Writer - Learn the Craft of Writing

Being a Writer - Learn the Craft of Writing

In the June 2010 issue of The Writer, author Jane Yolen discussed the need to learn the craft of writing in an article titled, “Dedicate Yourself to a Writing Apprenticeship.” She explained that the process is slow and long, but is necessary to being a writer, to learn the craft of writing.

If you’re wondering what the craft of writing is, it’s proper writing technique, grammar, and style. These writing elements include structure, formatting, clarity, and in fiction writing, plot, character development, point of view, and dialogue. Even knowing the particulars in the genre you write is important.

So, what exactly is the meaning of the word ‘craft?’

Wikipedia’s definition is, “A craft is a branch of a profession that requires some particular kind of skilled work.”

Merriam-Webster refers to ‘craft’ as an occupation requiring “artistic skill.”

And, mentions membership in a guild.

Between all three definitions we know that a ‘craft’ is a branch of a professional group or guild. It is a career or occupation, not simply a hobby.

The Road to Becoming an Accomplished Writer

Interestingly, there are various avenues that can be taken to become an accomplished or professional writer, but each one has the need for learning, practice, time, and commitment. Some writers may go to school and get degrees, others may learn from a coach or mentor, others from trial and error, failures and successes. But, whichever path is taken, there is a lot of work that goes into becoming experienced and knowledgeable, in being a writer. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect.

But today, with the easy-to-do-it-yourself self-publishing explosion, writers may not be viewed as professionals. Certainly, most people have read a self-published book or e-book that lacks proper grammar, structure, and even clarity. These products are easy to spot, but yet they’re available for sale, and the authors consider themselves writers.

While it’s great that those who want to write have a vehicle to publish their own work, especially in this overwhelmed publishing market, those who don’t take the time to learn the craft of writing do themselves and others an injustice. They make the self-publishing book market murky and the label of ‘writer’ less professional.

This shouldn’t be the case.

Think of a professional musician. Imagine him playing an amazing piece, smooth, fluid, and beautiful – every note is perfect. Now imagine another musician; this one isn’t in tune, can’t read the music, misses notes, and sounds awful. Which musician do you want to be?

You should want to be the professional; the one who offers polished and experienced work; the one who earns a reputation for quality.

According to, it doesn’t matter what your experience level is, there is always room for improvement. Writers should strive to “study ways to improve their craft.” While this may take time and work, it is easy to find the needed help and resources.

To begin, do a search for online writing instruction; try the keyword “learn to write.” You can also check your local schools for adult education classes, or take some college writing courses. There is an abundance of writing information available, much of it free or very inexpensive; take advantage of it.

Being a writer means you need to learn the craft of writing, and continue honing your skills.

More on Writing

Writing Means Commitment
So, You Want to be a Writer
Improve Your Writing – Know About Sentences


Heidiwriter said...

I agree 100%! And those authors who seem to break the rules successfully have been writing a long time and know the rules and how to break them!

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Great post. We all need to hone our skills.

Kathleen Moulton said...

I needed to hear this today - thanks!


Magdalena Ball said...

Absolutely, Kathleen. I think some people are blinded by the notion of a 'muse' who inspires great writing. It's all about hard work and continually learning. Good writing rarely comes easy.

Karen Cioffi said...

Hi, Heidi, Absolutely, you need to know the rules before you can break them.

Mary Jo, like everything in life, practice makes perfect - or at least better. :)

Kathyleen, Glad it was timely for you.

Maggie, LOL. Yeah, the 'muse' is called hard work!

Margaret Fieland said...

Good post, Karen. I thoroughly agree. Too many writers today are hazy on the rules of grammar and punctuation. IMO there's no excuse for such carelessness.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

Shared this as it seemed ideal to encourage slow and steady writers and even the slow and unsteady like me :-)

Karen Cioffi said...

Margaret, I agree. The problem is the free digital option of publishing makes it way too easy for many to bypass learning how to actually write.

Annie, I think we all have weakness in our writing that we need to work on - continually honing our craft.

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