What Makes A Great Writer?
There can be little doubt that the world is full of good writers. You can see their work pretty much anyplace you go. From self-published novels to various social media accounts… the written word is everywhere! So much for the death of writing which so many felt visual platforms like Pinterest, YouTube and Instagram would bring. Even those require good writing in one form or another to introduce and convey a message. Also, where there is writing it can only naturally be assumed that reading will follow. Make no mistake, the age of technology has not made reading obsolete. In fact, it has enhanced the process with the introduction of devices such as Kindle and ebook readers. People are reading more than ever before. The major difference is that it is no longer just in the printed book form. Considering all of this, the opportunities which now exist for freelance writers are plentiful and diverse. However…so is the competition! The question which can then be asked, is how can someone overcome the competition and rise to the top of their field? In other words – what makes a great writer?
1. Exceptional Introductions:
” First impressions are the most lasting.” (Old Proverb)
Great writers are acutely aware of the need to make a strong first impression. The simple truth of the matter is that today’s world is full of multiple distractions. The Internet has brought endless reams of information which is always right at our fingertips. We are often overwhelmed by the sheer volume of what is available, and as such we become excellent skimmers and scanners who are always looking for that perfect piece. Consider this statistic which comes to us from Chartbeat:
“55% of all pageviews get less than 15 seconds of attention.”
Such a statistic clearly illustrates the need to make a solid impression upon the reader very quickly. Whether you are writing a novel or a magazine article, a lot of effort must go into the introduction. A strong headline and an awesome opening paragraph, which clearly and concisely introduces the topic, is the key factor which will influence a reader to continue viewing your content or not. There can be little doubt that great writers understand the importance of exceptional introductions.
“Writing means organizing your thoughts. If your mind is scattered your writing will be scattered.
If your mind is focused, your writing will be clear. Then your reader will say, Yes, I get it.” (Robert Peate)
While it is of utmost importance to produce a powerful introduction, a great writer also understands the significance of organization. Writing needs to be organized in a way which is clear and logical for the reader. Story lines should flow seamlessly and articles need to follow a defined structure which makes obvious sense to the reader. Otherwise they will quickly drift off and exit the page or close the book in very short order. Powerful introductions, an interesting middle, and gripping endings, which are presented in a clear-cut manner, are critical components of well organized writing. Good writers create interesting stories or articles, but great writers do so with precise and systematic organization.
3. Great Rewriting Skills:
“Keep your hands moving. Writing is rewriting.” (August Wilson)
Raise your hand if you hate rewriting. My prediction is that a lot of hands shot straight up into the sky. Mine would be included with those! However, rewriting is critical to the writing process. Creating content which is easy for other people to read, understand and enjoy can be a difficult task. Great writers understand this fact and will edit and rewrite their work relentlessly until it feels perfect… and then they will rewrite some more! Great writers realize that time and intense effort must be put into the rewrite.
4. Write Every Day:
“Just write every day of your life. Read intensely. Then see what happens.
Most of my friends who are put on that diet have very pleasant careers.” (Ray Bradbury)
Some individuals are naturally talented writers. It seems to come naturally to them. However, that talent is only developed by relentless practice of the actual writing craft. It is a skill based profession. A writer’s raw talent needs to be developed by constant writing. There are a variety of reasons that writing every single day is so important. For instance, it allows you to communicate better in your writing, improves your writing mechanics and enhances your creativity. Writing every day will also make it a habit for you. This will go a long way in helping you to overcome such problems as writer’s block and a fear of producing poor quality content. There can be little doubt that great writers understand the importance of practice and writing every day.
5. Great Imagination:
“Imagination? It is the one thing beside honesty that a good writer must have.
The more he learns from experience, the more he can imagine.” (Ernest Hemingway)
Perhaps the most popular lines used by teachers in school is “Write using your own past experiences. That is the strongest type of writing.” But is it really? What about the power of the imagination? Make no mistake, imagination is critically important for writers. It allows them to be creative and describe things so lucidly that the reader will actually feel like they are right there with them. It helps them to generate ideas and then turn those concepts into a written reality. This is not to say that using one’s own experiences is not useful. Far from it. In fact, those who can use their own life experiences in an imaginative way are truly great writers.
6. Great Observers:
“One of the nice benefits of writing is that you are always learning.
Writers are great observers of the world and of people.” (Margaret George)
If part of great writing comes from our own life experiences, then it is only reasonable to say that we must have experiences in the first place. This does not neccessarily mean participatory experiences. It is more about listening to, and watching what is going on around you in the moment. Great writers are excellent observers of the environment around them. Indeed, this is actually their research! Whenever a great writer is observing something happening, they are asking themselves how they would put this scene to paper. Great writers are observing and researching every moment of every single day.
7. Voracious Readers:
“If you want to be a great writer you must do two things
above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” (Stephen King)
If you are a sports fan you understand that professional players spend countless hours viewing game tapes. Why? For the simple reason to analyze their play. By watching these tapes they are able to generate new ideas for future games and identify their strengths and weaknesses. The same goes for writers. By reading we obtain ideas about what others are putting on paper. We are not there to steal their ideas. No… we are being inspired by the writing of others while learning about key concepts such as plot development and style at the same time. This will in turn help us to move forward with our own work. Great writers are also great readers!
8. Way With Words:
“I know nothing in the world that has as much power as a word.
Sometimes I write one, and I look at it until it begins to shine.” (Emily Dickinson)
Words absolutely matter! They are beautiful yet deadly. They can also be utterly confusing if used incorrectly or in the wrong context. They can be boring and tedious if they become repetitive. A great writer does not only have a strong vocabulary and love for words, but they ultimately have a knack for piecing them together in a way which instantly captures the reader. The use of words will make or break a potential author and are truly a factor which can help create great writers.
A good writer simply never gives up. A great writer goes beyond that. They are determined and resilient-never accepting no for an answer. They will face and overcome the inevitable challenges which will come their way. They will face multiple rejections which will only push them to pound upon their craft harder and become that much better. They do not fear rejection. A great writer will use all of life’s experiences, manipulate them with their imagination, and create a work of written art. A great writer has a unique understanding of the world…and this will help them gradually ascend to the top.