Recently, I chose to quit my well-paying gig as the Writing Coach at the institute that awarded me the Best Writing Mentor honor during my tenure with them.
I had a good run for over 4 years now. And it feels good to know that some of my students also got placed in the industry and are doing well, given that it’s their first year out in the real world.
Yet it never felt quite satisfying. Somewhere, something was lacking.
I naively held on to the belief that the love of words and the passion for writing would be reason alone that inspires one to write.
I used to own a technology company. I shut it down when I came to a crossroads, where I could no longer sail on two boats. I chose an uncertain career in writing over an established business venture. And to date, I am proud of that decision.
However, times have changed. The more writers I met during my tenure as a Writing Coach, the more the situation became clearer. Today, despite the passion and talent for writing, young writers focus more on the other aspects of having a career in writing.
Even before they begin their journey, they are marred by the concerns of finding a foothold in a highly competitive market, establishing a personal brand, and ensuring a sustainable income source. The Career concerns have taken a center-stage, while the sheer joy of writing got shoved back in the darkness somewhere.
Whether it is because of survival necessity or career ambitions, budding talents are compelled to take the easier path.
The abundance of these content online suggests that there are many people looking for it. Where there is a demand, there is supply. The Internet is filled with guidelines and templates along with a well sketched-out blueprint to make a killing in the writing field.
But is writing just a handful of practical tips, a few well-documented techniques, and a lot of self-marketing; or is there something more to it?
Can we unlearn the tips, techniques, and craft? Can we remain immune to social distractions and existential pressures?
The fundamental flaw in the current educational approach is that it relies on studying a particular phenomenon, formulating theories based on observational patterns and quantifiable results. What does that mean?
Well, whatever is being taught today, as the art and craft of writing, was derived by observing writers who were successful in their occupation. That simply means those writers didn’t use any of the tips and techniques that are being taught today. What those original writers did was pour their soul on a piece of blank paper. I consider this the golden era of writing. When writing was all about the writer and the audience? The sheer joy of weaving words that engage, excite and elevate a fellow soul. Writers didn’t write to become bestsellers. They became bestsellers because they wrote honest words that resonated with their audience.
Then somewhere along the line, some intellectuals noticed certain patterns and styles that separated the successful writers from lesser-known ones. And a formula was devised, which evolved to become the modern-day doctrine on Creative Writing.
Somehow, the original writers could do it centuries ago with no tips and techniques. Yet, today, young talents don’t consider themselves as writers until they get validation from someone else – Be it from a Writing Institute or a Writing Coach.
In my opinion, one is a writer if one has a love for the words and a fertile mind to weave stories. There’s no need for any third party to acknowledge that. What kind of writer one would become and how successful one would be is decided upon the writer’s audience base. And every writer has a share of readers out there.
What the Institutes and Coaches can do best is to guide you from their experience, and save you from reinventing the wheel. It makes sense to an extent. Our world has changed drastically as compared to what it was in the golden era of writing. The audience has changed and so the storytellers must evolve too. After all, writing is also a form of performing art and it must cater to its audience.
Yet, I strongly believe there’s more to writing than checking all the boxes in the creative writing and storytelling cheatsheet. No amount of coaching would help you unless you realize writing is beyond craft and wordplay. There’s more to becoming a writer than following some writing formula to dish out content.
This brings me to the point. Is there a way to balance art and craft? To embrace techniques without giving up on the essence of storytelling.
Can we spare a moment from our daily routine to experience the pure bliss of writing? A moment where we are freed from all concerns and influence. Maybe at that moment, we are stripped of our identity and notion of self. And all that we become is a witness to the magical appearance of soulful words on blank papers.
This blog is an exploration of the said direction.