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Writer's Block/Are writers or good speakers born or made?

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Question
I have been wondering about this for the longest of time. Are writers born or made? And I also ask that of those that seem to be so eloquent on television during interviews. I struggle with writing and expressing my thoughts. So I ask myself are good writers born? Or can you learn how to write well? Likewise, is eloquence something that can be learned and improved upon or are you just born with a "gift" to speak....all of this stems from the fact that i can never seem to summons the right words to use in writing or when speaking. And when I observe others they seem to be able to do it so effortlessly. It frustrates me and has me questioning my intelligence at times...it even has me thinking that i have some kind of learning or speaking disorder like dyslexia or aphasia or something..or do i simply just need to read more books? please help thank you

Answer
Dear Jamel,

First: the questions I receive are not just about the person who asks them, and the problems my readers have aren’t unique to them. As a result, I don’t answer questions privately because that means I can’t share my answers with everybody who might need help.


Now let’s take a look at your problem.

I’m willing to bet you wrote your question without revising it—which tells me you wrote a pretty good first draft.

Here’s a quick analysis:

[Subject ] Are writers or good speakers born or made?

[Introduction ] I have been wondering about this for the longest of time. Are writers born or made?

[Example ] And I also ask that of those that seem to be so eloquent on television during interviews.

[Problem ] I struggle with writing and expressing my thoughts.

[First Question ] So I ask myself are good writers born? Or can you learn how to write well?

[Second Question ] Likewise, is eloquence something that can be learned and improved upon or are you just born with a "gift" to speak....

[Problem Restated ] all of this stems from the fact that i can never seem to summons the right words to use in writing or when speaking.

[Example Restated ] And when I observe others they seem to be able to do it so effortlessly.

[Central Fear ] It frustrates me and has me questioning my intelligence at times...it even has me thinking that i have some kind of learning or speaking disorder like dyslexia or aphasia or something..

[Solution/Suggestion ] or do i simply just need to read more books?

[Polite and Gracious Closing ] please help thank you


~Pretty good writing, Jamel. Let's continue.


*****************************


NATURE VS. NURTURE

You asked a question about nature and nurture. Were you born with certain gifts, or can you learn them?

Sure, a few people are born with the capability of learning how to write and speak better than the rest of us. But if they don’t receive the education or seek opportunities, then what? Their gifts lie dormant.

A few other people are born with little or no capability of learning how to write or speak. They, too, must receive education and seek opportunities in order to build their skills as far as they can. Otherwise, nothing happens and they get the same results as the gifted people.

The rest of us—which is the majority—fall between those two extremes. We have the capability of learning to write and speak. Most of us receive enough education to at least get by, and we can get more if we want more. Opportunities to improve happen by chance or choice.



EFFORT VS. OUTCOME

Struggling to write or speak is different from writing or speaking well. The effort may be difficult even if the outcome looks easy. Yes, you and I can improve our writing and speaking skills, but sometimes what looks easy comes at great cost.

The question is: are you willing to make the effort? You have two choices:

1. You can read about aphasia or dyslexia and give yourself the symptoms if you work your imagination hard enough, OR

2. You can read less, write and speak more, and let your imagination feed those developing skills.


DOING VS. READING

Don’t abandon books; use them to support your writing and speaking efforts. But also take a writing class locally or join a writers group online. If you’re nervous about thinking of yourself as a writer, search for a BEGINNING writers group. There are hundreds, if not thousands of them online.

Regarding speaking skills: visit a Toastmasters Club in your area and observe what goes on. You’ll see people who are helping each other learn how to speak in public, and maybe you’ll want to join. Go to <href="www.toastmasters.org/"> to find clubs near you. Visiting is free, and membership costs very little.



FAKE VS. REAL

The people on TV are constantly prepped by coaches, managers, and handlers. They work hard to sound the way they do. They’re constantly striving to improve their public images, and they can be personally devastated if their public images fail.

People like you and me may not want to build images for TV, but we definitely want to write and speak well as our true selves.

To do that, we have to seek more education and better opportunities. Luck is helpful, but it’s not automatic.



YES, YOU CAN!!

Most important is to direct your attention and effort to what you want for yourself. Choosing to improve your speaking and writing skills—and knowing it’s a lifelong effort that can be both hard and fun—will definitely pay off.

Ask me how I know this ... ☺

Writer's Block

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Frances S. Ponick

Expertise

EXPERTISE: Unblocking communications is the main focus here, so all questions are answered publicly. I will answer questions from adults who are struggling with a book, a major report for an employer, a dissertation, or something equally hefty in business, science, or academics. I can help if you absolutely have to write something and can't get started, or if you've started writing and don't know what to do next. If you need help beyond individual questions, I also offer personal coaching, book doctoring, or critiques and analysis. I can answer questions about your novel, your journal, or your poem if you are under the gun because of a contract deadline or some other legal or workplace pressure. Unblocking communications is the main focus here, so I don't accept questions marked private.

Experience

Independent book doctor, author coach. Author of "Only Angels Can Wing It: Write a Eulogy Quickly and Present It Compassionately" and "101 Telephone Interview Tips for Speakers of English as a Second Language". Other titles in progress. Director of Publications at MENC: The National Association for Music Education, the largest nonprofit arts education association in the world. 1997–2008. Recruited experienced authors and developed novice authors. Their names are listed below in “Past and Current Clients,” and their books can be viewed on www.amazon.com. At conventions, gave presentations to nonprofessional writers: “How to Get an Article Published,” “How to Write a Book,” “The Publications Process,” “Working with Your Editor,” and similar subjects. Coached book authors and taught staff editors to coach authors. Ghost-wrote forewords for books, endorsements, speeches, marketing materials, presentations, proposals, technical writing, executive summaries, press releases, and other projects. Co-owner, Edge City Press. The Logic of Microspace, a collection of essays on rocket science used as a textbook at the U.S. Air Force Academy (2000). Senior Technical Writer/Marketing Support Specialist, Unisys Corporation, Publications and Engineering departments, 1984–93. S and TS clearances. Designed and taught classes in administrative, business, and technical writing. Wrote and rewrote all types of technical documentation, including proposals. Senior Technical Writer, Informatics General, Rockville, Maryland, 1982–83. Sole writer to thirty-five member Federal Marketing Organization. Conceived and created, wrote and edited numerous marketing brochures, commercial and government proposals. Designed document formats, provided hands-on assistance to technical personnel with documentation assignments, and edited their completed work.

Organizations
National Speakers Association, Asian-American Chamber of Commerce

Publications
Some of these include: Contributor, The Dictionary of Literary Biography, Vol. 282: New Formalist Poets. (New York: Gale, 2003). Entries on Dick Allen, pp. 3–15; Jared Carter, pp. 31–40; Frederick Feirstein, pp. 83–90; and Bruce Meyer, pp. 223–32. Writer for major area HMO, responding to 300 client complaint/comment letters, 1995, 1997. Managing and poetry editor, The Edge City Review, a quarterly literary magazine, 1991–2005. Arts critic for the Times-Mirror Newspapers, a community newspaper chain with a circulation of 120,000. Reviewed galleries, music, fine arts, poetry/fiction, and profiled personalities. Arts reviewer for the Connection newspapers.

Education/Credentials
MNM (Master in NonProfit Management; coursework) Regis University, Denver, CO. M.A., American Literature, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC. B.A., English Literature, Cleveland State University, Cleveland, OH. P-ESL Certificate (Pronouncing English as a Second Language), IPL (Institute of Language & Phonology) Attendance at seminars and similar learning opportunities about twice a year.

Awards and Honors
American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) Deems Taylor Award for excellence, Music Educators Journal, 2004. Two First Prizes, Poetry Society of Virginia, 1999. Best Small Business of the Year Award, Reston Chamber of Commerce, 1997–98. Washington Dateline Award, Washington DC Professional Chapter, Society of Professional Journalists, Sigma Delta Chi (National Press Club), First Place for 1993 Arts Criticism, 1994. Award for Writing Excellence, DCI Publications Group, Alexandria, VA, 1992. Achievement Award, Independent Research and Development (IRAD) Brochures, Unisys Corporation, 1990. Exemplary Action Award, for proposal writing skills and for developing a data base of corporate capabilities to support proposal efforts, Unisys Corporation, 1989. Exemplary Action Award, for setting up and publishing a monthly project newsletter with sole responsibility for reporting, writing, and coordinating word processing, graphics, reproduction, and distribution while completing other duties as project editor, Unisys Corporation, 1989. Exemplary Action Award, for writing, editing and coordinating production for over 300 resumes within a one-month period for GSA STRIDE proposal delivered January, 1988. Commendation from Comptroller, U.S. Department of State, for designing, developing, writing, and producing the Budget Reporting System used by over 156 embassies worldwide, 1980. Honorable Mention, American Academy of Poets, 1975. University Research/Teaching Fellowships, University of South Carolina, 1972–75. Phi Sigma Iota Romance Languages Honor Society, 1975.

Past/Present Clients
Most recently, Selected authors include Bennett Reimer; Maureen Harris, Jody L. Kerchner, Carlos R. Abril, Charlene Ryan, Zachary B. Poulter; Natalie Sarrazin, Victor V. Bobetsky; Patrick K. Freer Karin K. Nolan, Elise S. Sobol, Michael Mark, Lois Veenhoven Guderian, William Gradante, Margaret Schmidt, Steve Eckels, Rebecca E. Hamik and Catherine M. Wilson, Janet Barrett, Michele Kaschub and Janice Smith, Charlene Ryan, William J. Dawson, Tony Bancroft, Susan L. Haugland, Kevin Mixon, Chris Tanner, David Doerksen, Carol Frierson-Campbell, Debra Kay Robinson Lindsay. Their books can be viewed at www.amazon.com. Also Rick Fleeter, Ph.D.; Kaiser Permanente; Unisys Corporation, and many, many other individuals and companies over the past 35 years.

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