Is it good grammar?
Is it good spelling?
Is it good punctuation?
Actually I don't think so.
In my personal opinion, good writing is less about the technicalities of the writing, and more about the factors listed below.
So let's explore what makes a good writer!
By and far one of the most important things a great writer will have is a plethora of life experiences.
Why does this matter? You can still write a ton of stuff with limited life experiences!
Someone who has a wider range of life experiences can draw from so many different fields, experiences, people, ideas, and different perspectives.
Some of the most famous writers of all time like Hemingway, Mark Twain, and Benjamin Franklin had crazily interesting lives!!
They weren't simply better at writing down words than everyone else, they simply had a broader range of subject matter to draw on.
If you have lived a life full of experiences, you will have more to write about, and more knowledge to impart on others.
Usually people who are great writers are into multiple things.
Comedian Bill Burr credits having multiple hobbies with keeping his comedy material fresh:
- He does stand up comedy.
- He travels all over.
- He became a helicopter pilot.
- He got really interested in cigars.
- He learned to play the drums at a professional level.
Having all these different areas of expertise allows him to draw from a much wider range of knowledge.
Having multiple skills is important in nearly every profession, and can make you a solid Triple Threat. Being a Triple Threat is also extremely beneficial in making a good writer.
A lot of people come to me wanting to become a copywriter, but they are secretly just trying to find an extra source of income.
They don't actually like writing, they just like money.
Most great writers will write even for free. In fact many of them have been writing for years and years without the expectation of income from it.
If someone at a conference asks me, "Do you think I can become a copywriter?"
I simply reply with this question:
"Have you published at least one article in the last year on any platform?"
If yes: "You actually have a shot at becoming a writer!"
If no: "You probably won't enjoy writing all the time."
Most great writers have this weird compulsion to write. They'll write in a journal, they'll write in a diary, they'll write on loose leaf paper, they'll write in a Word Doc, they'll write on a personal blog.
A 16 year old girl that's been writing a personal blog for several years has a better chance of becoming a good writer than a business person wanting to get traffic to some content he puts out. This is because someone writing because they love it, or they MUST do it will persevere longer when an article gets tough.
My friend Linda has been writing since before "food blogging" was a thing. She wrote about what she loved for YEARS and slowly built up a following.
Editing, proofreading, finalizing, etc are almost always not that fun. That's a given.
However if you at least love the process of STARTING an article, you might have a shot at becoming a good writer.
There's something kind of exciting about finding a topic to write about, then brain-dumping everything onto the page, then organizing your thoughts. You can see this process in action here
Of course by the time the article starts getting long and you have to put finishing touches on it, it's totally normal to absolutely hate writing at that moment!
Many people start writing because it either helps them think or helps them calm down.
However if writing hella stresses you out....it may not be a great option.
I fall in the camp of writing helps me think. My brain is so dumb that I can't keep much information in there at once, ergo I must write down my thoughts to think clearly.
There's also a large amount of people who start or end their day by writing in some sort of journal. This is therapeutic for many people, and helps "organize and reflect" on each day. People who get this sort of benefit from writing have a shot at being a good writer.
A lot of content generation nowadays is just a writer Googling a subject and condensing the knowledge from the top posts into their own post.
While there's some value in summarizing other content, the content that does well over time is something that adds new knowledge to humanity.
Here's some content examples that've brought the author lots of attention, links, and money:
- 1,000 True Fans (created the concept that you don't need a large audience, but a loyal audience)
- Elon Musk AI (laid out what Artificial Intelligence is in a different way than anyone else)
- Writing Taglines (proposed a different way of creating a tagline than others).
These are seminal pieces of work that even years later bring in massive amounts of readership.
They stand out because they bring fresh and unique perspectives to existing topics.
Have you ever built a complicated piece of IKEA furniture? And at the end of the process you get this strange inner feeling of accomplishment?
That's how I feel whenever I complete an article.
I may be completely fed up with writing the damn thing by that point, but it still gives me a sense of accomplishment that I took a bunch of raw ingredients and created a finished product.
As a writer you'll have to publicize your work to the world. Is this something you're willing to do?
Some people are.
Some people are not.
Either way is fine, but if you want to be a good writer, it's likely you'll have to subject yourself to public scrutiny.
I think curiosity might be one of the biggest factors of all for a good writer.
Good writers like to explore.
Good writers like to poke and prod an issue.
Good writers like to break down complex ideas into simple chunks.