The Misconception

Edinburgh Writer's Museum Wall QuoteRecently, I’ve been reading Write Good or Die, and the very first section in it reminded me of a post I’d once published over on my old blog. Still being relevant, I thought I’d share it again here, now. (It has been edited, a little.)

Anyone Can Write a Book, eh?
Originally Published March 2011

I’ve been both thinking about, and discussing this belief that anyone can write a book a fair amount recently, and I thought I’d share some of conclusions I’ve came to regarding it. You may not agree with my conclusions, but I do ask that you hear me out and read until the end before voicing any objections.

So, this idea that anyone can write is a bit of an inside joke between authors, and with good reason. It’s actually written on the bathroom wall in Edinburgh’s Writing Museum and this amused me so much I had to capture it (see photo).

You’d be amazed how often we hear “anyone can write a book” in a dismissive and/or patronizing way. But what most people, who haven’t even attempted a book, don’t realize is how much effort it actually takes; how many hours we can spend on a draft only to have to redraft it again afterwards.

We don’t really know how to respond to the comment other than with a look that could clean corn BUT in a sense, they’re right, anyone CAN write a book – in a sense.

Anyone can write a book, but that doesn’t mean it would be a good book, let alone publishable. Writing a book and writing a book that will sell are two different things, after all.

I’d also like to point out that, while anyone can write a book, not everyone can write a novel. Unfortunately, this is what people actually mean when they say anyone can write a book. And it’s simply not true.

If you can speak, form sentences, express yourself on a basic level, then technically all you’d have to do is record yourself talking about a specific topic at length and then transcribe this to form a manuscript. If you did this you would indeed have a book, but the chances of anyone reading it are very low and novels are different ball game all together; they take a different skill. You need to have the talent of a storyteller (and then some!).

My last word on this is the following: You can write a book? Writing a novel is easy? Prove it. Go on, I dare you.

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