Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

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?

How to Be a Good Writer

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

Speaking of reading, here are some books and resources that may help:

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.


About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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


    But seriously, good advice, Jeff!

    • hah! you’re a lucky man…

      • Don’t I know it!

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

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

  • 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.

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

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    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!

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    This is helping me thank u

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  • 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.

  • Imantra Org

    Thanks for sharing this tip. Yes, of course, if you are a good writer, then these things are important to know.


  • AcelJean

    I feel like a moron… I already know all of this stuff yet I have to look them up. One of the reasons is that I’m not exactly from a country that speaks a lot of English. These tips helped out a lot, thanks!

  • I’ve read thousands of articles on becoming a good writer, either from books or articles. My summary of the whole of it is: Read and Write. The more the former the easier the latter.

    Thanks, Jeff.

  • Mia Blackwhite

    Love your blog. I found it and now visit it almost every day. It gives me confidence and inspiration to pursue my dream.

  • Thanks good read..