4 Qualities of a Good Writer

To be an effective writer requires using words and sentences as tools to express ideas and emotions in a way that is distinct to you. Great writers—whether they are fiction authors, historians, memoirists, poets, or bloggers—must work to find their own voice. Consider these four qualities of a good writer:

  1. Clarity: A good writer communicates effectively with readers. Clarity allows you to reveal ideas without demanding extra effort from the reader. First, you have to know what to say, then work on how best to say it. Know the rules of the craft to spot redundancies, run-on sentences, and grammatical errors so your work is clear to readers.
  2. Regularity: One of the best ways to overcome writer’s block is to keep to a schedule. Some writers are rigorous, writing a specific amount of minutes or words per day. Others set aside a particular time of the day to get to their writing desk. No matter the writing routine, successful writers make it a habit.
  3. Risk: To become a better writer requires you to challenge yourself. Your best writing might come at the edge of your skill level, outside of your comfort zone. This is when you are making the most profound demands on your imagination and abilities, and with more risk comes more reward.
  4. Persistence: Even great writers deal with disappointment and rejection. Revising the first drafts of your own writing can be a challenge, and getting feedback can feel vulnerable. The best thing to do is keep going—move on to the next sentence, the next paragraph, or the next project.

How to Become a Good Writer

The best way to improve your writing skills is to start writing. Getting words down on a page is the first step to becoming a good writer. Follow these tips to build a positive writing practice:

  • Find your focus. As an aspiring writer, the first question to ask yourself is what kind of material you want to write. Are you most drawn to creative writing? Are you interested in journalism, history, or memoir? Many writers work in multiple genres, but narrowing your identifying your interests can help make your next steps clearer. By reading avidly and widely, you’ll learn what kind of writing inspires you to make your voice heard.
  • Develop a writing routine. Make a daily habit of writing. Often it can be helpful to look to other writers, especially those whose work you admire, to indicate how they approach their craft. Do they write first thing in the morning or late into the night? Do they set aside a specific amount of time for first drafts versus revisions?
  • Seek feedback from peers and mentors. Getting feedback at different stages is an essential step of the writing process, whether it’s a casual first impression from a friend or specific notes from an editor.
  • Double-check your work. Whether you’re a non-fiction or fiction writer, accuracy is essential. Accuracy can mean creating a consistent, believable world from scratch, or collecting, organizing, and presenting data to readers in a clear, precise way. In all cases, paying attention to accuracy, from correct descriptions to fact-checking, is a mark of the best writers.
  • Expand your vocabulary. When reading, keep a list of unfamiliar words to look up and use later. This will help you build a better vocabulary for your writing. Having a large vocabulary can help you find unique words to fit your ideas and can help you avoid familiar clichés.

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