How to Be a Good Writer (If There Is Such a Thing)
Too many writers are caught up with insecure thoughts of whether or not they are any good. It’s crazy. We are quite the neurotic bunch, aren’t we? But what if all this self-doubt was actually self-destructive?
Look. We all know there are some bad writers out there, so if there is such a thing as a good writer, you want to be one. But in my mind, “good” is synonymous with “effective.” So let’s begin there.
What does it take?
Tips for being a good writer
There are six things you can do to be a better (ahem, more effective) writer. The following is what I recommend (click the links to read articles on each subject):
- Read. Good writers read. It’s that simple. Words are the lifeblood of great writing. There’s no way to get good without lots of valuable input.
- Get an editor. A good writer recognizes he needs help. He can’t do this on his own (neither can you). You need to get someone to critique your writing, someone you trust. I suggest a peer editor for starters.
- Capture ideas. A good writer is constantly gathering creative input. Ideas are the inspiration for artists and writers. You need to have a system for collecting them. A great tool to help you do this is Evernote.
- Write every day. This cannot be overlooked. It’s essential. You can’t get good without practice. Even if only for a few minutes, you need to write every single day.
- Rewrite. An essential part of writing is rewriting,
distilling the fluff down to some core content that will actually make a difference. This is hard, but important. Stephen King calls this “killing your darlings.” And for good reason. It ain’t pretty. But it’s necessary.
- Get inspired. Hard to explain, but there’s a part of the writing process that is mysterious. You can’t take full responsibility for what you create. A good writer knows how to avail herself to the Muse. She knows inspiration is like breathing for the creative spirit.
Good writing resources
Speaking of reading, here are some books and resources that may help:
- On Writing by Stephen King
- Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
- Eats, Shoots, & Leaves by Lynne Truss
- The Writer’s Manifesto by Jeff Goins
The world needs better writers
The bottom line is we need you, the writer, to be good. Really good. Especially at a time when more people have something to say. And with the Internet as a megaphone, sometimes the best voices don’t always get heard.
There’s a lot of noise and little clarity right now. I hope that you’ll take the time to hone your voice, craft your message, and write with excellence. Because this tool of writing can be squandered. Your message can fall on deaf ears and be ineffective.
And what a shame that would be.
What do you think it takes to be a good writer? Or is there even such a thing? Share in the comments.