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What Makes You a Good Writer? Using Words Creatively
Today I did something new and exciting. I did something that I have never done before. It wasn’t as exciting as say . . . skydiving . . . thank goodness! Although there may be some of you who think skydiving is exciting, I do not – lunacy, maybe -- but not exciting.
So you may be asking yourself, “What was it that she did that fell (no pun intended) somewhere on the excitement scale between skydiving and sleeping?” I won’t hold you in suspense for too long. I applied for my first job as a freelance writer! I stepped off the deep end now and there is no turning back!
So Many Questions
Now it’s scary and exciting all at the same time. So many questions are running through my mind. Did I answer their questions correctly? Will they even consider me with only 8 weeks on HubPages as the sum total of my career as a writer? Will they contact me if the answer is no or will they just leave me hanging? These are just a few of the questions that are keeping me awake long past my bedtime.
But during the application process they asked a question that I had never really thought about. It’s a very easy question. In fact, the answer was a lot harder than the question. Their question was, “Please write 150 words on ‘What Makes a Good Writer?’”
How would you answer that question if you found yourself face to face with it? Could you answer that question right there on the spot?
An Easy Question with a Difficult Answer
Like I said, an easy question that I had not really considered before. I don’t know why, but to me it’s a more difficult question than, what makes a good mechanical engineer? Or, what makes a good driver? It just can’t be answered as easily. It’s somewhat nebulous; and then you have to consider the source – a company looking for a writer. I wanted to know what they thought was a good writer because that certainly would be the right answer.
And as a writer, it suddenly dawned on me that this is something that I should know! If I don’t know what this is, then how will I ever know that I’ve reached the mark? How will I ever know what my goals should be? It really is an important question. Have you come up with what you would say to that question?
Say What You Mean
Since having filled out and submitted my answer, I had even more time to think about it and ponder if I answered correctly. I googled, ‘what is a good writer.’ On about.com there was an interesting quote in response to my query.
"A good writer is simply one who says all he wants to say, who says only what he means to say, and who says it exactly as he meant to say it." (Ferdinand Brunetière, Honoré de Balzac, translated by Robert Louis Sanderson, J. B. Lippincott, 1906)
How Many Words Does It Take?
That quote gave me even more to think about, because when I answered their question, I was not able to even come close to 150 words like they specified which left me with even more questions, such as, “Would they consider that to be good or bad?” According to the quote I just mentioned, less is probably better. But the thing that bothers me most about this quote is that it never mentions the reader, or the responsibility that the writer has in making himself understood. Without a reader, what is the purpose of writing? Without a reader, why even bother? Even someone making entries in a journal or diary knows what their purpose is. And since it is written with the intent that no one else ever see it other than themselves, they are their own audience.
Have I got you thinking yet?
Do You Have to Know Where You Are Headed?
I looked again at Google. I found an interesting answer to the question at eprep which stated, “It’s a question that appears to have some magical, formulaic answer. . .(but) great writing doesn’t simply happen; it takes time, struggle, and a willingness to accept that sometimes you won’t know where you’re headed.”
What? Well that seems to have just blown knowing the purpose of your writing. How could you not know where you’re headed? But . . . just maybe there’s some logic in that. I'm writing now, and although I knew when I started that I wanted to coerce you into thinking about the answer to this question for yourself because every writer should know the answer to this question, I also knew that I would share my answer with you, but I did not truly know how I was going to go about accomplishing these two tasks and join it together cohesively.
So I knew my purpose was to get you to think about what you thought a good writer was and then share with you what I thought a good writer is. But I have to concede that I wasn’t entirely sure how I was going to get there.
But that is one of those magical things about writing. As a creative process, it grows and changes and expands, sometimes taking on a life of its own. I used to create beautiful pictures with paints, but now my canvas is the blank page staring back at me, and my paints are the words that I use. And words can be quite powerful. They can be used to incite, or to excite. They can be used to woo, or they can cause much woe. Words can evoke pictures in our minds and feelings in our hearts. Words are the tools that a writer uses.
Well, do you have an answer yet?
Have you ever thought about the answer to this question before?
A Good Writer Is . . .
Here is what I wrote: “A good writer can take a subject, almost any subject, and through the use of the written language convey to the reader concepts that may be new to the reader, but do so in a way that the reader can comprehend. This is accomplished by knowing the audience for which the written word is prepared and being able to skillfully impart that knowledge to the reader through a written presentation suitable to convey their intended meaning to that intended audience. This may entail a careful analysis of the audience to determine their ability to comprehend what is being conveyed while at the same time investigating and shaping the material to accomplish the impartation of that knowledge.”
I don’t know if that was the correct answer or not. I'm not even sure there is a 'correct' answer. But it was the only answer that I was able to come up with on the spot. My response to their question only came up to 116 words. But what more was there to say? What could I have said? I would like to hear your answer, so that if I am ever faced with this daunting question again, I will feel better prepared to answer it. What do you think? What makes a good writer . . .
By the way . . . I did not get the job, but there is always next time!
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Copyright © 2011 Cindy Murdoch (homesteadbound)