David Ogilvy said it:
"Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well."
I wrote back:
"Dear Margaret (not her real name)
It means no such thing.
If you are getting low grades (not that a B is low, by the way) because your spelling and punctuation are not what they should be, take heart. You can learn those.
If you are getting low grades because the teacher doesn't like the content of your story, remember that intelligent people can differ in their opinions about a story, an essay, a book, a film. I mean no disrespect to your teacher, but I don't take it as a given that he or she is a great judge of material.
To quote David Ogilvy, who was a masterful ad man and a pretty good writer (in my opinion), "Good writing is not a natural gift. You have to learn to write well."
That's not to say that talent doesn't play a role. But if you are passionate about writing I suspect you do have talent as well. It may not be fully developed. In fact, I hope it isn't, because one of the great motivators in life is the desire to keep improving.
One of the joys of writing is reading the work of wonderful authors and being able to say you're doing it as part of your work. You will learn a lot from this, and without necessarily copying their style. Be sure you're making the time to read, and read widely. Once in a while read a book you don't like and figure out why you don't like it. Then reward yourself by reading one you do like and figure out why you do like it. There's a lot to be learned about writing outside of English class.
Believing that you can have the career of your dreams is just as easy as doubting it and is more likely to have a positive outcome. Believe in yourself and keep writing."
I think that advice is just as applicable to older writers as to younger ones. I have to remind myself of it from time to time, too.
(For my new book I collected the writing advice of great writers and then added material on how we can adapt it to what we are writing. The book is called 'Your Creative Writing Masterclass," it's published by Nicholas Brealey, and you can get it from Amazon or your other favorite book seller.)