The vocation of writing entails equal parts torture and triumph. It is sometimes a blessing … and sometimes a curse. At least, if you’re doing it right and have a somewhat healthy sense of self.
Today, assume that your compulsion to write is a blessing. And, even if only momentarily, assume that you are “good” at what you do. Then ask yourself: what makes your writing yours? What makes you “good” at writing, or what makes you a good writer, whatever that’s supposed to mean?
What makes you a good writer?
In order to be a good writer you need a healthy ego, but not a conflated one. You need to be persistent and diligent in your practice. And you must continue to learn and hone your practice to continually improve and grow as a writer.
Most importantly, you must be you. You will not be a good writer if you are not you as you write— if you do not learn to harness and use your true authentic voice.
What makes anyone a good writer is their authentic voice.
Regardless of your education and experience and background, only you can tell the stories that are inside of you, the stories that are a part of you. You have particular knowledge, feelings, and experiences that no one else on the planet has had because no one has ever lived your exact life or learned exactly what you have learned. You can always learn and practice the rest, even if it takes time. Or hire a phenomenal editor. But you cannot be a “good” writer if you don’t embody a voice that is truly yours.
What makes you a good writer? My answer:
I must admit, I have held back a lot of what I’ve wanted to write over the years because I never thought I knew enough, even with a master’s degree and two bachelor’s degrees. (Perhaps that comes with being a woman? Either way, I can revisit that inquiry another day…)
I didn’t hold back as a writer because I was insecure in my writing abilities. In a variety of writing roles over the past decade, I have trained and worked hard to develop my writing skills.
No, I held back as a writer because I felt there was always more to know and research and learn before I could write anything that was complete or worthy of publication.
In other words, I was a perfectionist.
Essentially, I always felt as if I was only writing about a part of whichever story I was writing, never the whole story. And this sincerely irked and paralyzed the perfectionist in me. I wondered: How could I ever write something incomplete and feel as if I was doing a good job as a writer?
Then, it finally hit me. Each piece of writing I write and publish is part of a broader conversation that is ongoing. It’s part of a broader dialogue. Any piece of writing is never truly solo or static—like the words, grammar, and punctuation rules of language itself that are used in writing. At least, not if it’s “good” or authentic.
Language evolves. And so should the voices that harness it.
I have discovered that my authentic voice as a writer is one that will always evolve because evolution cannot come about without learning, some form of growth, and critical adaptation.
Today’s #DailyDraftsAndDialogues : What makes you a good #writer? It’s okay to flaunt it, at least for a moment.Tweet
I’m Currently Reading:
- The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath by Heather Clark
- The Tale of the Dueling Neurosurgeons: The History of the Human Brain as Revealed by True Stories of Trauma, Madness, and Recovery by Sam Kean
- The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich
See my shelves on Goodreads.
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