What makes a good writer?
If you’re a novice writer, you’ve likely asked yourself this question many times.
There’s no need to worry because I can help you.
In this post, I’ll discuss the qualities that set successful writers apart and provide tips for improving your writing skills.
Table of Contents
What Makes a Good Writer?
To know what makes a good writer, you must first understand the elements of excellent writing.
Many writers worry about their skills and wonder if they’re good enough.
But what if this self-doubt proved destructive? What if there was no such thing as a “good writer?”
Most people have different ideas about what makes good writing. What you may like, another reader may hate—and vice versa.
For example, J.K. Rowling is one of the world’s most famous and successful writers.
However, critics often judge her for using too many adverbs in her prose.
Similarly, many today consider F. Scott Fitzgerald and his novel The Great Gatsby overrated.
These criticisms don’t apply only to these two authors.
It’s the same for any other so-called “great writer.”
Some people love these writers, and some don’t.
There is no universally loved writer, and that’s fine. Perhaps that’s what it means to be “good.”
Again, is there such a thing as a “good writer” or even a “great writer?”
What if there’s only an effective writer?
Could that change the way writers work?
Good writing means effectively communicating a clear message to the audience. The sooner you realize this fact, the better you’ll be at your job: writing.
Stop worrying about being a good writer and work on being effective instead.
Good writing doesn’t exist. It’s only effective writing that counts.
The key to becoming a good writer is perseverance and hard work.
What Makes a Good Writer?
Effective writing means using words and sentences to express ideas and emotions in your own voice.
All writers have a unique voice, whether fiction writers, historians, memoirists, poets, article writers, or bloggers.
It doesn’t matter if you’re writing an essay, a short story, a blog post, an article, or a letter to a friend; here are some qualities to make your own writing shine.
A good writer knows how to communicate clearly and effectively with readers.
Clarity allows your work to reveal ideas without requiring extra effort from readers.
Decide what you want to say, then work on how to say it.
Identify redundancies, run-on sentences, and grammatical errors to make your work coherent.
Discipline is one of the essential qualities of a great writer because they have to rewrite and evaluate their work content repeatedly.
Writing, editing, revising, and editing again can be frustrating, which is why you need discipline to be an excellent writer.
The best way to overcome writer’s block is a strict writing schedule.
Many writers are meticulous about their daily word count.
Some set a particular time of day for writing.
Create a routine and stick to it. Regardless of the number of words and time you prefer, what’s crucial is making it a habit.
Challenge yourself to be a better writer.
Your best writing will come when you go beyond your comfort zone.
Stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks tests your writing abilities and imagination.
With more challenges come more rewards.
Writing takes patience. You’ll face rejection before getting your first article or book published.
You’ll also experience times when you have nothing to add to your work.
Don’t lose hope if you sense you’re far from the end.
Realize that you can only complete your first drafts or manuscripts if you’re patient. That’s how an effective writer survives in such a competitive world.
You need versatility because you don’t just write.
As a writer, you must also research, promote your book, and attend book launches (among other tasks).
If you’re a self-publisher, you must know everything about book promotion, marketing, and social media advertising.
How To Be a Good Writer?
To improve your writing skills, start writing today.
You can only become a good writer with practice and good habits.
Follow these steps to become a good writer.
Write Your Way Out of Writer’s Block.
It’s better to write something “bad” than spend time staring at a blank screen.
In writing, something is better than nothing.
Try these tips if you’re stuck in the writing process.
- Write down any idea that comes to you. A mediocre idea might lead to something better.
- Try writing about how you’re stuck and have no ideas. Describe something in your room or rant about something irritating. You’ll be in “writing mode” and have new ideas in just a few minutes.
- Find writing prompts online or in bookstores and libraries. They can help to spark your imagination.
Be a Voracious Reader.
To be a good writer, you must be a heavy reader. That’s all there is to it.
Great writing lives and dies by its words. Getting good takes lots of input.
Good writers have a passion for the written word; nothing stokes that passion like reading.
Read as many books as possible with purpose, whether fiction novels, autobiographies, or self-help books.
Good writers always read with a deep purpose. They try to figure out the author’s plot and mentality.
Reading builds vocabulary, teaches grammar, inspires, and shows the power of language.
As a beginning writer, reading is just as crucial as writing.
Note how writers construct sentences and paragraphs, especially in your favorite parts.
Remember how writers craft their opening line, close each chapter, or express a specific idea.
Get recommendations from friends and family members, or go to your local library and pick a few books from each section.
I recommend reading these good writing resources and books.
- Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott
- Eats, Shoots, & Leaves by Lynne Truss
- On Writing by Stephen King
- The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron
- The War of Art by Steven Pressfield
- The Writer’s Manifesto by Jeff Goins
- Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle
Improve Your Vocabulary.
You can use a dictionary and thesaurus while you read or write down unfamiliar words to look up later.
There’s a debate over whether to use simple words or a sesquipedalian vocabulary.
You can decide the kind of words to use in your writing after discovering which tools to use.
Dictionary definitions sometimes explain how to use a word. Looking up a word online can give you a better understanding.
Think of Each Paragraph, Scene, and Chapter as Its Own Argument.
Great paragraphs stand on their own. Each one has a beginning, middle, and end.
Without paragraphs, your story, article, blog, fiction or non-fiction, and essay won’t move forward.
Every paragraph and scene should end in a different place from where it began. Here are some examples.
- Ernest Hemingway was a master of economy. There aren’t any extra paragraphs or scenes in his short stories or novels.
- When you read great journalism, you can see how each piece contributes to the whole. Take a minute to read your favorite newspaper and stop after each paragraph. How did it accomplish its goals?
- Even though they’re not strictly paragraphs, Shakespeare’s monologues are masterclasses in growth and power.
Take on a Challenge.
If you’ve been writing for a while, you likely return to the same style, format, or topic.
Stay motivated by practicing your favorite type of writing, but remember to switch it up now and then.
To improve in any field, you must deliberately challenge yourself.
Here are some things to try.
- If all your writing projects or narrators sound the same, try changing your writing style. Get inspiration from or adapt another author’s style or combine two.
- Take a break if you write mainly for a blog or one project.
- Choose a topic you can’t fit into your usual writing project, and write about it. Make the piece work into your project as a follow-up challenge.
Do Your Research.
Blogs are the best platform for improving your writing skills.
Ensure you do proper research, know your subject, and develop good ideas before you write a post.
Use your daily life as a source of inspiration.
Keep a diary with you.
Remember things, note them, research, then express ideas uniquely to impress your reader.
Both fiction and non-fiction require you to know your subject.
Suppose your main character is a glassblower; research by reading a book on glassblowing. Doing so allows you to develop a more realistic character.
If you’re writing about a time before you were born, try talking to people who lived during that era.
If you’re writing fiction, you can start writing the first drafts before doing your research.
Write With Your Audience and Purpose in Mind.
Change your writing and message according to your audience, just like how you would change your clothes for specific weather. Your writing should suit the audience or specific group you’re addressing.
Word choice significantly affects the clarity and understandability of your text.
For example, flowery writing would fit better in a poem than a business proposal.
Avoid using technical jargon in your writing unless you’re a technical writer who writes for industry experts.
Reading the work of great writers can help. Study how these writers use a specific register, format, and purpose.
Great writers use and create mind pictures to captivate readers.
For example, it’s more exciting to say, “Tears streamed down her face” than “Tears flowed down her face.”
Using vivid expressions makes a more significant impact. Great writers use words to do the work for them.
Get Feedback From a Supportive Group of Writers.
The writing process involves getting feedback at different stages. Let other writers read your draft, and invite them to give you feedback.
Encourage honest but constructive criticism, and take it as great advice for improving your writing. However, stay away from friends who are dismissive of your craft.
Keep in mind that there is a difference between constructive and disheartening criticism.
Get feedback from other writers by joining online writing communities like Scribophile or WritersCafe, or find a niche group.
You can also check local writing clubs.
Revise, Revise, Revise.
Don’t be afraid to drastically change your work, including chopping whole sections or rewriting the entire story from a different character’s perspective.
Keep getting feedback and using that feedback to edit and improve your work.
When it feels like you’re running in place, remember you’re practicing skills that will help you in the future. Write something fun and ridiculous from time to time to remind yourself that writing is fun.
Allow yourself time between writing and editing.
An extended wait gives you distance and detachment, which Stephen King calls “killing your darlings.”
It’s not pretty, but it’s necessary for the writing process before you publish your work.
Embrace New Ideas and Things.
Although it bruises their egos, successful writers are open to new ideas and changes because it helps them improve their writing.
Open-mindedness and feedback can be very valuable, whether from readers, reviews, editors, proofreaders, or even close friends.
The World Needs Better Writers
Let’s address the question, “Isn’t there such a thing as bad writing?”
The answer is yes. There’s nothing worse than lazy, ineffective writing.
However, the chance of being a bad writer doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
Striving to be a “good writer” will never satisfy you if you constantly strive for it. What you need is to be an effective writer.
You need to:
- Be clear
Do these things, and you’ll be an effective writer.
Your effectiveness is vital, so I hope you take the time to develop your voice and craft your unique message.
I hope my advice has helped you become a better writer.
I gave so many tips, but the most crucial thing is to keep writing.
The more you write, the better you’ll get at it. Who knows? Maybe one day, someone will wonder what makes YOU a good writer.