• Archuleta A. Chisolm

Why Your Good Writing Is Not Great

The difference between good writing and bad writing has nothing to do with skill. It has to do with perseverance. Bad writers have poor habits and give up easily. Good writers have developed consistency and keep going. Period.

Personally, I’ve been writing for most of my life and I’m still trying to improve. Every writer can get better, and no writer is perfect. I believe I’ve grown tremendously as a writer, even just in the last few years but it has been a journey.

As with anything, the more you do it the better you become at it. There’s just no getting around that. It takes hard work. But it’s worth the effort. And if it seems like an unattainable task, there are some concrete things you can do today that will get you on the road to improvement.

1. Read great writers. This is the place to start. If you don’t read great writing, you won’t know what it looks like or how to do it. Everyone starts by learning from those who do it best, by emulating them, and then through them, you find your own voice. Read a lot. As much as possible. Pay close attention to style and mechanics in addition to content.

2. Write a lot. Set a goal to write every day, or even multiple times a day if possible. The more you write, the better you’ll get. Writing is a skill, and like any other skill, you have to practice it to get better. Write for yourself, write for a blog, write for other publications. Write just to write, and enjoy doing it. It gets easier if you practice a lot.

3. Write down ideas. I keep a little notebook handy in my purse, in the car, and by the bed to write down ideas for poems or articles or blogs. Write down snippets of conversation that you hear. Write down plot twists and visual details; fragments of song lyrics or poems that move you. Having these ideas written down helps, because they can inspire you or actually go directly into your writing.

4. Just write. If you’re staring at blank paper or a blank screen, it can be intimidating. You might be tempted to check social media or get a snack. Just start writing. Start typing away — it doesn’t matter what you write. Once you get going, you get in the flow of things, and it gets easier. I like to start out by typing things from my notes, headlines from the news, or just words. It gets the juices flowing and then I’ve got a flow. The key is to just get going.

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