You Have To LEARN To Write (but don’t tell anybody that!)


Most people can’t tell a joke very well.

I think everyone knows if they are funny or not, except in-laws, and about half of all people can tell a decent joke. Most of the others can kind of tell one well, and a few… just can’t tell a joke at all.

Same with stories/anecdotes. Verbal tales. Some people can’t tell one, others can.

So when it gets to writing, a lot of people were taught to read and write and diagram sentences and identify a noun and verb, so we all think we can write. We do it all the time, after all. Grocery lists. Reports for work. Facebook posts.

If you aren't funny and try to be anyway.
If you aren’t funny and try to be anyway.

But it’s like telling a joke, we can’t all do it. A lot of us can, but a lot of us can’t. The ones who actually try, who sit down and bang out a story with a beginning, a middle, and an end, and hold their breath and hit the PUBLISH key, are the envy of 80% of Americans who WANT to write a book.

Those who tell their written story WELL… that’s a smaller group.

Those who do it on par with decent writers we’ve actually heard of, that’s even smaller.

And those who do the WORK of editing, rewriting, reviewing, getting critiques, finding beta readers, selecting cover art (or doing it yourself) and then promoting it – that’s a fraction of that big pie. That’s where it is a little less fun and a little more work. Like a job – the thing they were escaping from when they were writing.

We're here to help.
We’re here to help.

So I get it, and I’m sympathetic, and I work diligently to help that fraction do their story proud, to make it the best it can be.

But it’s work, even when we pretend it’s easy. Like Ernie Hemingway said, “It’s none of their business that you had to learn to write. Let them think you were born that way.” Their = the reader, the audience.

Like, the magician doesn’t explain how the trick is done. But the magician has to learn to do the trick.

You have to learn to write, and that means learning ALL the stuff that’s involved.


Your humble host.
Your humble host.

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Dan Alatorre is the author of several bestsellers and the hilarious upcoming novel “Poggibonsi: an italian misadventure.” Check out his other works HERE.

Published by Dan Alatorre AUTHOR

International bestselling author Dan Alatorre has 17 titles published in over a dozen languages. From Romance in Poggibonsi to action and adventure in the sci-fi thriller The Navigators, to comedies like Night Of The Colonoscopy: A Horror Story (Sort Of) and the heartwarming and humorous anecdotes about parenting in the popular Savvy Stories series, his knack for surprising audiences and making you laugh or cry - or hang onto the edge of your seat - has been enjoyed by audiences around the world. And you are guaranteed to get a page turner every time. “That’s my style,” Dan says. “Grab you on page one and then send you on a roller coaster ride, regardless of the story or genre.” Readers agree, making his string of #1 bestsellers popular across the globe. He will make you chuckle or shed tears, sometimes on the same page. His novels always contain twists and turns, and his nonfiction will stay in your heart forever. Dan resides in the Tampa area with his wife and daughter. You can find him blogging away almost every day on www.DanAlatorre or watch his hilarious YouTube show every week Writers Off Task With Friends. Dan’s marketing book 25 eBook Marketing Tips You Wish You Knew has been a valuable tool for new authors (it’s free if you subscribe to his newsletter) and his dedication to helping other authors is evident in his helpful blog.

24 thoughts on “You Have To LEARN To Write (but don’t tell anybody that!)

  1. Living with a writer for years, I used to think writing was easy. But now I write too, I can tell you it is most definitely not! Not if you want to be the best in your field, or taken seriously.
    But no matter how hard it is some days, I won’t be stopping any time soon…

  2. If I had known how hard learning to write was, I’m not sure I would have begun my book. I often say learning to write well is similar to learning another language: the language of saying exactly what you mean.
    But, looking back, I sometimes wonder if I would have had children if I knew how difficult THAT would be. Of course, I’m so glad I did.
    The two endeavours, producing a book and raising children, are comparable if you squint just right. And, when I speak to someone thinking of beginning a book, I react almost the same way as when someone tells me they’d like to start a family. Goosebumps and excitement, along with the knowledge that these people have no IDEA what they are getting themselves into. The late nights and early mornings. The blood, sweat, and tears, and the criticisms from others that you’re doing it all wrong.
    But, when you get it just right, when a reader tells you they think your work is great, your idea is amazing, and your writing made them cry (in a good way), all of those hard bits become worthwhile.
    Great post, Dan. So true!

  3. I often say that learning to write well is like learning another language: the language of saying exactly what you mean.
    To be honest, I’m not sure I would have started that journey if I knew just how hard writing is. But then, I’m not sure I would have started a family if I knew how hard THAT was, and of course, I’m so glad I did.
    The two endeavours, producing a book and raising a family are comparable if you squint just right. And, when someone tells me they are thinking of writing a book, I react (internally) almost the same way as when someone tells me they’re thinking of starting a family. Goosebumps, excitement, and the knowledge that these people have no IDEA of what they’re getting themselves into. The late nights, the early mornings, the blood, sweat, and tears, and the criticisms from other people that you’re doing it all wrong.
    But, when a reader tells you that your work is good, or your idea is amazing, or when you make someone cry or laugh, all that work becomes worthwhile.
    Great post. So true.

  4. Like a job, that thing we escape while writing…
    I now tell people I have two jobs. When I met some new employees at work and they asked why I only work four hours per day, I say it’s my second job.
    “Oh, what’s your other job?” they ask.
    “I’m a writer,” I say.
    At that point they either ask follow up questions or roll their eyes and walk away.

  5. Say you’re an author. That’ll get ’em.

    And don’t be shy abut dropping that bestseller line on them, either. Eye-rollers are just jealous that their epic tome isn’t selling.

  6. Oh, so you lot have germs? You didn’t think to warn me before exchanging intercontinental messages, did you. Now I know why I’m feverish today. Boooooo! Sadly I won’t be learning to do anything when I feel ughhh 😷😤😰

    Hope you’re all feeling better soon though 😇

  7. This frigging cold had the audacity to come a day before we went to the beach, linger and fade until I thought I was better, then come knock me down again. Ugh!

    But since I don’t have a fever, you’re on your own. I have a feeling a few days this thing will run its course but I’m going to the doctor tomorrow since it’s been 1 1/2 weeks and I already thought I was done with it. Can’t infect the kid or life will really be hell.

  8. I just discovered that Gh is a sneeze. Jenny actually sneezed on your blog!

    I didn’t think people in sunny Florida got colds, you learn something new every day. Where I live, it’s autumn for 10 months of the year, winter for 59 days and summer for 1 day… sniffles are normal!

    1. I had to go to get my friend in Great Britain to tell me what my Canadian author friend meant when she typed Gh on a Floridian’s blog. That’s too much work.

      We DON’T get colds! I’m convinced it’s an allergy that somehow migrated to my chest.

      Actually, some kid at school sneezed on my kid. You know how that goes. She got a cold for a week and gave it to me.

      1. Yeah I know exactly how that goes. Kids are far more generous than we give them credit for, and it doesn’t get better as they get older. My youngest is 9 and she had it last week, so guess where mine came from… Yep!

        Parenthood is definitely almost as hard as writing, and I’m not sure I’ve mastered either yet!

  9. Humor can be pretty hard to write at times, but personally I find other kinds of writing harder. I admire the discipline of some of my fellow bloggers who write haiku, for example. Trying to express something meaningful in 17 syllables? Now,that’s an art.

    I hadn’t seen that Hemingway quotation before, incidentally, but it’s a good one. It gives me hope.

    1. Well, when you DO humor all the time, like you do, you get a feel for what works. You audience understand when you’re being sarcastic and when you are driving a point for the third laugh, etc. Switching from that to other realms is trickier, for sure. Haiku, I always felt, sacrificed meaning for the right number of beats – unless done very well, and that’s rare.

      1. Yes, I agree that it’s very hard to write haiku in English in a way that doesn’t sound forced. It is possible with enough skill, though. I’m always amazed by how well Rose of the Poet Rummager website, for example, manages to get it right again and again. She can be darkly humorous with it too.

        But good as she is, I’ll bet that, just as you discussed in your post, she had to put a lot of work into learning her craft properly before she could make it seem so effortless.

  10. I agree that you have to learn to write or do anything for that matter. It’s like watching your favorite rock star sing and play guitar. He didn’t come out of the womb knowing how to do that. He took lessons and worked hard. I’m taking guitar lessons, and I had 3 and it’s challenging. I’m struggling. But I remind myself I am learning, and Eddie van Halen had to learn too.

    1. I’m pretty sure Eddie was born to it. He started as a drummer. But there’s a saying that anyone who is an expert at anything started out as a beginner, so why not you, me, and everyone else?

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