My family came over for dinner last night, and while I was talking to my brother-in-law, he made an interesting statement. We were talking about my hobby of writing, and he said something like, "I can tell a story all day. I'm good at making stuff up, but if you ask me to write something down, I can't do it. I suck at writing." It got me wondering: when does someone learn to write?
On the most basic level, we all learn to write when we get to school. It's one of the most basic forms of communication. As we progress through our school career, we write more and more and have to write longer and longer pieces. We actually get graded on our assignments. I was one of those people who never had any problems with writing. I enjoyed doing it, but I knew several people who struggled with it. This was always baffling to me. How could writing be hard? All it entailed was putting your thoughts on paper. The first draft didn't have to be perfect, that's what revision was for! In college, the papers got longer, and I would find myself struggling slightly there. I always hated to have to write a 12-page paper, but I found that as I got into it, it usually wound up being longer. (Not always, sometimes I was too busy worrying about when/where I was going with my friends so I just slopped something on the paper, but that's a different story!) I enjoy writing so much that I got a Master's in English and continue to write to this day. I enjoy writing both fiction and nonfiction and the different challenges of each. And, trust me, a 12-page paper is easy at this point in time.
I wouldn't necessarily say I'm a fantastic writer (but I keep practicing and trying!), but I'm much better at putting my thoughts on paper than I am speaking them. My brain always seems to go faster than my mouth, and I have a tendency to stumble or have to back track to fill the listener in with important information I forgot. Even trying to explain a story I've written has its issues. I know everybody has their own talents, and different people excel at different things, but story telling is story telling whether it's on paper or from the mouth. Isn't? What do you think makes someone good at writing but not speaking or vice versa?