Here’s my favorite graph in Jim’s essay:
“My debating friend may think heís a writing polymath, but heís not. Heís simply writing his corporate brochures over and over again, disguised as novels here and poems there and whatever else elsewhere. Anyone interested in writing, especially if he wishes to write in more than one genre, should caution himself against this guyís example. Each kind of writing is its own skill to masteróand you will have to struggle to learn each as if they are different things, because they are. But take heart. Even if you master one, just one, youíll be a far better writer than my know-it-all-poorly and do-it-all-badly friend will ever be.”
The crux of the issue is that Jim believes that fields of writing are rather separate and that the skills one learns and uses in one field are not necessarily applicable in any other writing field; whereas I believe that skills you learn in one writing field are often applicable in other fields. Aside from Jim’s personal opinion of my writing (which, incidentally, is entirely unsurprising; my only defense to his position I do it all badly is that my various publishers and clients appear largely to disagree), his position is an interesting point of view. It’s an interesting point of view which I happen to think is stupid, inefficient and wrong, mind you, but interesting nevertheless.
Objectively speaking, it’s difficult to say which of our opinions has more “truth” to it; the process of writing is different for each person and I tend to think that the right process is the process that works for you. The argument I can make for my point of view being useful is that I have books and novels sold and/or in the bookstore, and I make a very good living doing all sorts of different writing for all sorts of different people. So I know purely on a practical level that my opinion is based on a practice that works. This is why I suggest it to others. You’ll have to ask Jim what practical application his writing philosophy has had for him.