*Disclaimer: I am not arguing the phrase, only discussing the nuances that are always left out of the idea.*
I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s heard that. I’ve heard that a few too many times, but I have heard a variation here or there. I had a roommate in college who said that anyone could draw (if they really tried). I’ve never heard anybody say, though, that anyone can be a soccer player, a flutist, an opera singer, or a tennis star. It’s funny how we encourage people to do some things more than others (though writing is, of course, infinitely more important than sports).
I’m not qualified to say anyone can play tennis (I’m terrible at tennis) or play the flute (never tried). However, I will say I do think anyone can write and by the same principle anyone can play tennis. Maybe they won’t be a tennis star or as legendary as Jane Austen, J.R.R. Tolkien, or Alfred Lord Tennyson. But they can try.
I think the really interesting thing is that no one ever emphasizes the effort. Writing can be really hard; being successful in the industry (even if you’ve honed your craft) is a whole different ball game altogether. I’ve been published a few times now, which is super rewarding, but it’s still hard. Hard and yet worth it.
Another college friend of mine always said she couldn’t write, and everyone always told her that she couldn’t because she wouldn’t. You don’t know if you don’t try. Sometimes (as in my days attempting volleyball, tennis, or diving) you try and learn that it’s not for you.
I picked up drawing again a few years back. Will I ever be great at it? Nope. Will I be good enough to entertain myself? Most of the time. No matter what though, it’s unlikely I’ll ever draw amazingly-three dimensional, shaded pencilings of castles and dragons and all manner of amazing things.
I’ll keep trying to draw. Maybe I’ll be lucky. I hope a lot of people have the same luck with writing. Goodness, I hope I have the same luck with writing.