A Writer Has Three Jobs

writing-penRobert Benson writes:

My father taught me that a writer has three jobs.

The first job is to learn the craft. No matter how much talent you hit the ground with, if you want to get very far, you are going to have to work at the craft.  You are going to have to practice every day, you are going to have to read good stuff until you know good from bad, and you are going to have to learn how to write sentences that people want to read, sentences that make them want to read the next one as well.

You begin to learn the craft as soon as you are willing to start doing the hard work required.  And as soon as you can find a place or an audience or a context within which people begin to see your work and decide whether or not they want to finish the page or pay the fee.

The second job is to find your own voice. It is not always an easy thing to separate yourself from the voices you love.  Even now, I have favorite writers I do not read while I am writing something new.  Listening to their voices can make it harder for me to hear and hold true to and trust my own voice.

Early on, my father’s voice–the voice of the writer I wanted to be–got in the way.  I found my voice only after he had lost his altogether.

The last of the writer’s three jobs is to figure out what you have to say and begin to say it. Most writers have only one or two things to say.  We keep saying it in as many ways as we can, hoping we are finally saying it clearly enough that others begin to hear us…Discovering what matters most to you, much less what you might have to say about it, may take a while.

~ from The Echo Within by Robert Benson, pp. 132-134

[Book Giveaway:  On Monday, April 20th, 2009, I will announce the winner of the drawing for a free copy of The Echo Within.  To enter the drawing you must be an email subscriber to this blog.  To subscribe to receive The Cruciform Life Blog by email, go to the top of the side bar on the right of this page and click on the “RECEIVE BY EMAIL” link.  I will draw one winner from a list of all of my email subscribers on Sunday, April 19th, 2009, and then post the results at 12am on Monday.  Once I’ve made contact with the winner and have verified a shipping address, I will have the book signed by Robert Benson and shipped to them.]

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