Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

How to Be a Good Writer (If There Is Such a Thing)

How to Be a Good WriterToo 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?

Most people’s definitions of “good” vary. What one person loves another hates. So stop obsessing over whether or not you’re a good writer. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you’re effective.

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):

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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

Here are a few books and resources that may help you:

The world needs better writers

The bottom line is this: 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.

For further reading, check out this Squidoo page I created: How to Be a Good Writer

And be sure to read this guest post I wrote: 6 Essential Tips for Better Writing

What do you think it takes to be a good writer? Or is there even such a thing?

Disclosure: Some of the above links are affiliate links.

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. To get updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

How I got 100,000 blog readers in 18 months

Sign up for the free newsletter and get a three-part series on exactly what I did to grow my blog from zero to 100,000 readers in less than two years. Enter your email below to get started.

  • http://movethemountains.blogspot.com Chad Jones

    WRT #2: I don’t need an editor–I’m married!

    ;-)

    But seriously, good advice, Jeff!

    • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

      hah! you’re a lucky man…

      • http://movethemountains.blogspot.com Chad Jones

        Don’t I know it!

        I married–cliché, but true–way, way up!

        I suspect you are a lucky–no, blessed–man as well.

        • http://goinswriter.com Jeff Goins

          your suspicions are well-grounded…

  • http://movethemountains.blogspot.com Chad Jones

    WRT #2: I don’t need an editor–I’m married!

    ;-)

    But seriously, good advice, Jeff!

  • Jam

    I think getting inspired is the most important thing and at the same time most challenging to begin writing. I love your stuff. I am learning a lot. Thanks.

  • http://profiles.google.com/matthew.la.snyder Matthew Snyder

    I love Anne Lamott’s, “Bird by Bird”. It’s one of my favorite reads on writing…

  • Benjonat

     You can be guaranteed that Volks will once again be thwarted by major improvements to these girls through GSC or any of the better companies (i.e: the ones who are not communists). We can see it happening all the time anyway. Many of the old Volks figures have been redone by the better companies many times over (Alter’s Tsukishiro Mi-na is mush better than Volks’). Rajasthan Tour Packages

  • Michrobet

    I have already bookmarked it.It was really a good read. I also think quality is vitally important ! But saying that, your articles are always a fab read., Keep up the good work .. Kerala Honeymoon Packages

  • Benjonat

    If you struggle to wake up early in the morning, chances are your body doesn’t get enough sleep. Try to take a nap for 20-30 minutes at day time. It helps reduce stress and you will feel refreshed. Best time to take a nap is midday…   http://www.honeymoontripsinindia.com/manali-honeymoon-packages.asp

  • Dinelson

    This is by far one of the best blogs ive seen. I am very
    happy you created this resource. what
    to text a girl you like
    | how
    to text a girl you like

  • Eleng Collegian

    It takes a lot of effort, that’s for sure. ;)

    I found this blog on Google and I love it! Keep up the good work!

  • Menedez23

    This is helping me thank u

  • Bhupendra Dwivedi

    Very Nice and Informative blog for how to be a good writer

    Ashiana Landcraft Gurgaon

  • Joe Brooks

    Jeff, another book I might recommend is Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer by Roy Peters Clark of the Poynter Institute, poynter.org. He says there’s two broad categories of writing books: one type is about grammar, the mechanics, etc. An example is Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style. Another type began in about the 1930s. These types are about the life of the writer or the “writing life” and how to inspire writers to do their work. It started with a book called If You Want to Write by Brenda Ueland and books like this. Another very helpful book along these lines is one called “You are a Writer” (So Start Acting Like One). These books are all on amazon and can be available on kindle. Thanks for a great blog post.