Seeing as one of my goals is to try to break into the world of games Journalism, this is a question that’s been rattling in my brain for a long time. What makes a good writer? What are the traits and distinctions that set apart the mighty word smith from the lowly sentence pauper? And more importantly, do I have it?
I can’t say for certain if my thoughts on this are correct, or even the best defined. A lot of this go off of gut instinct, and I might just be fooling myself. If I am or not, I’d really appreciate throwing your thoughts and feelings down in the comments, I do thrive on the discussion sometimes. And so in this block of words from mine brain I shall attempt to define what is needed to make a good writer.
There’s some technical skill required of course, the ability to form sentences, most importantly the abilities to read and write, an alright vocabulary (though this can be made up some with a good thesaurus and dictionary set), and some basic grammar skills (though this can be made up for with a good editor.) All of these are things that can be taught, that can be learned, and save for some grammar rules (darn you grammar! My biggest weakness, especially you comma.) are relatively easy to learn.
So what stops us from being great writers? Well one thing that helps certainly is practice, practice, practice. While it might take musicians to Carnegie Hall, it takes us to a publisher, I guess. Yet practice alone does not make you a great writer. It certainly helps, particularly if you force your works upon others (like unsuspecting victims of the internet who happen to go to www.digitalin-I mean, nice, wonderful people who read blogs. Yesssss.) and learn from their criticisms and reactions what works and what doesn’t.
Yet there’s this ineffable quality to good writing that is much harder to define. That spark that really defines your voice as a writer. Some call it creativity, some call it imagination (particularly for fiction.) In the end I think it’s the ability to come up with well thought out ideas, and finding a way to share and flesh out those ideas. A wise man once said that ideas are like buttholes, everybody’s got one, and I think that’s true, we’re very good at coming up with ideas. It’s understanding the true consequence of those ideas and exploring that that really makes a good writer, and I think that’s true of fact or finish, news or comedy, etc. . ..
There’s also one other thing that really sets a good writer apart, and that’s passion. The ability to pour one’s soul, if there is such a thing, into their writings. To put your voice, the culmination of who you are behind what you write, and a lot of how it’s received if you do that I think reflects on the kind of person you are. Finding your voice is something that’s particularly hard to do, and trying to remain true to it, because every slip up damages you. Especially when what you’re writing demands some level of respect or trust.
What I mean by the last statement is, if you contradict yourself, or if you hinge, wimble, or sway a great deal, people can’t trust or understand -your- opinions or thoughts or feelings. I had a bit of a 1st world crisis earlier in the week, where a few people I only know relatively well guessed what show I praised, what webcomic I was really into, and what new show I loathed with only those hints. I felt like an open book, predictable, uninteresting. It made me cringe and wonder if people could read me so clearly, was there an actual point to me writing?
It was only while searching for those answers, and asking myself whether I’m a good writer that it hit me. People being able to read me in some ways is exactly what I want, I want me to show through, for you to know and understand my feelings, my tastes, my preferences, in at least as far as blogs, reviews, etc. . . go. If I do it well, that means you can tell if you have similar tastes, or at least can judge base off of mine. If we always disagree for example, you can take my joy for a warning, my frustration and sadness as a word of praise. And that understanding can make all the difference in the world.
As to whether all of that makes you a good writer or not, I hope so. If it is, there’s a chance I fit the bill. If it’s not, well there’s a much smaller chance I fit the bill, and am too stupid to recognize why. But until my fingers fall off, or my dreams are crushed so callously on the sidewalk that part of me breaks, I will continue to write here, to be with you guys (all 5 of you) and pray that one day I shall wordsmith something worth keeping.
Be safe all, I look forward to any comments.