Your best writing teacher is a passage that challenged you the most when writing it.

No medical student becomes a doctor simply by reading a textbook. Neither does one become a great painter simply by gazing at the works of great masters on museum walls. Instead, to become qualified to practice her profession, the doctor makes rounds as a resident while the painter actually works with oils and canvas then shows at a gallery.

Likewise, no writer ever became successful simply by reading about a literary device in a writing guidebook. This is not to say that such books aren’t useful. They are. Many such books inspire students to read great literature and introduce a number of writing methods to would-be authors.

A far better teacher is actually writing. When that occurs, the writer suddenly becomes aware of the importance of diction, seeks ways to achieve a certain tone, and experiments with differing styles all to achieve a desired effect.

Just as anyone can teach a student the basics, a truly great teacher encourages her pupils to excel, to strive for more than the mediocre. Good teachers challenge their students…and their students rise to the call. A difficult to write passage is akin to that good teacher. Such a passage forces a writer to explore new ways of stringing together words, of experimenting with new plot devices, of examining how other writers did it and then modeling their success.

If you really want to grow as a writer, don’t opt for the easy solution by using cliché devices and repeating plots, character archetypes, and unimaginative themes already done ad nauseam in hack books and on television. Instead, accept the challenge of finding a way to take your writing beyond the norm, even if that means going through several revisions.

The result will be a writer who actually can practice his craft with great skill rather than remaining a wannabe who reads about how others do it.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.