Since I graduated from college 37 years ago, I have made my living as a writer, but I haven’t written very much about writing. Why not? Well, I haven’t written very much about anything I wasn’t hired to write about. That has been the nature of my career.
But a few years ago I decided, career be damned, I will write more about the things I want to write about. (And the career largely has been damned, but that’s another story.)
Most of the things I’ve learned about writing that have served me well I did not discover on my own.
I learned the value of simple, direct, and economical writing from Ernest Hemmingway and, even more so, Kurt Vonnegut. Like me, Vonnegut started out as a copywriter. He noted that advertising writing is one kind in which personal style is discouraged. He said that was not necessarily bad.
As a writer, I justified a lot of my writing-for-hire as learning the craft. The craft is important. It’s not something to be taken lightly and you usually don’t master it overnight.
After 37 years I’m still learning the craft. Should that worry me? Shouldn’t I have mastered it by now?