People often say to me either: "I've always thought I'd like to write a novel", or "everyone says I ought to write a book about my life/experiences/brilliant idea"(or whatever).
Why do so many people think they can write? And if they really believe they can, why don't they just sit down and do it? It's because that's the really hard part; that's why. The sitting down and doing it. That's what so many people don't seem to get. Ideas are easy. Everyone has ideas. Nearly everyone can string words together. Telling stories is relatively easy. But sitting in front of that blank sheet of paper (or worse, that blank screen) is the really hard part. How many potentially brilliant writers have never written a book because they never sat on that chair and got stuck in?
And yet...another part of me thinks, what makes you think this is so easy? What makes you think that anyone can write a book? A friend of mine, a successful actress, is infuriated because the cast of her present production includes a "celebrity" who has never acted in her life before. 'I think I'll go and spend a day as a brain surgeon' fumes my friend. 'If X thinks she can act, why shouldn't I have a go at digging away at somenone's grey cells? Do years of training and experience count for so little?'
To get back to writing, a great many people think they can write. But can they? Those of us who have been published are fortunate; I know this, and I'm very grateful. I could well have spent all my writing life keeping the slush piles of agents and/or publishers in business. But like most writers, I have served my apprenticeship. I have worked hard. Writing may be compulsive, but it's not easy. It's lonely, frustrating, and often heartbreaking, and unless you are very successful, it doesn't pay particularly well. As an occupation, it is not to be taken lightly.
There seem to be two reactions to people who write. One is: "Gosh! You write books! How wonderful!" The other is: "I could do that. I think one day I'll have a go."
Well, make up your minds, all you would-be writers. Either those of us who write are all geniuses, or writing is something you can do, too. So for goodness' sake, get on and just do it.