For me, there is never a short answer!
A fellow blogger—I trust I can be called a fellow blogger—asked in a recent post about blog writers:
“Is there a je ne sai quoi, a special something that separates the women from the girls and the men from the boys when it comes to writing?
“Talent ? Skill ? Practice ? Passion ? Enthusiasm ? Creativity ? Empathy ? Intelligence ? Rich parents ? Chocolate ?
“Some of you aren’t writers, some are wannabe writers and some of you are writers – what do you think it is that makes a writer a special snowflake, versus the rest of us?” (Don Charisma, January 8, 2015)
This is my view of writers, in response to Don Charisma’s question. (http://doncharisma.org/2015/01/08/theres-writers-and-then-theres-writers/)
To me, there are two major groups of writers: those who write for themselves (and a very tight circle of like-minded readers) and those who write for (or want to write for) a broader audience.
Talent: I do believe there are those writers who are innately talented. They possess the ability to convert observations and experiences into “word pictures” as easily (and more clearly) as most people talk. These talented writers—the “snowflakes”— are like all-star athletes that possess an innate talent that they finely hone through practice. There are many more of us, who possess the desire, the knowledge of the required skills, and are willing to practice, and work at communicating whom I call journeyman writers. We may not win Pulitzer prizes, but our readers understand (and continue to read) our work.
Practice and Skill: I once read somewhere that the brain (which we use for writing) is like a muscle; it needs to be exercised through learning and practice. Included here is an appreciation for, and knowledge of, grammar and vocabulary—the building blocks of intelligent communication. As a technical writer and editor for many years, I can attest that accurate use of grammar and vocabulary are essential to achieving a shared understanding between writer and reader.
Passion and Enthusiasm: I believe there are those who are “driven” to write—for many different reasons. There are those of us who enjoy writing because we enjoy learning and writing gives us a reason to research and share what we have learned. Others just want to tell an interesting story. Passion and enthusiasm are needed to actually sit down and do the work of writing, for whatever reason.
Creativity: This is certainly a useful talent. For me, the creative element comes out in writing headlines and lead paragraphs–and this continues to be a challenge for me. That is not the same level of creativity that it takes to successfully write fantasy or fiction—that level of creativity eludes me.
Empathy: I had not really thought about “empathy,” however, the more I do, the more important I think it may be. At the very basic level, it simply means understanding what the reader cares about whether it is a new widget or technology, or probes more deeply into exploring the human condition. Yes, writers must care about their readers.
Intelligence: It certainly helps! But I have read posts that did not seem to be backed up by much intelligence!
Rich Parents: I would not know, but pass the chocolate.
I am what I would call a journeyman writer. I understand my tools. The tools are grammar, research, clarity of message, reader consideration (empathy), and editing proficiency.
I spent nearly 30 years as a “professional” writer and communicator in a technical writing environment. The objective was to explain or describe a process, technology or theory in terms that intelligent professionally interested readers could grasp quickly and easily to be able to make a decision regarding funding a project. As the “communicator” for my organization, I did not have to fully understand the details of the technology—we had engineers and scientists for that. I had to translate the concepts into clear language that not only described the technology but also why it should be useful the reader.
Incidentally, “self editing” is my single greatest personal writing challenge!
Writer’s Side Note: I firmly believe that the most important academic courses at all levels of education are communications courses. Regardless of profession—pilot, pipe fitter, engineer, research scientist, writer, teacher, etc.—each of us will find that life is much easier (and maybe profitable) if we communicate clearly and accurately with management, coworkers, employees, customers, physicians, friends, and family.
Don Charisma (blogger) posed a question about what it takes to make a good writer, and also observed there are those who “aren’t writers,” some are “wannabe writers,” and some are actually “writers.” He refers to the cream of the writers (my words) as “snowflakes” (his word). About Writers In Response to Don Charisma is my meager response to his query.
About Writers In Response to Don Charisma is my meager response to Don Charisma’s query on what makes a good writer.
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Nice ! … fellow blogger, definitely you are … that sounded a bit like yoda, wasn’t my intention ! 😀
Reblogged this on Don Charisma and commented:
I really like Renaissance Musing’s response to today’s opinion post, and yes it was a little long for a comment … thanks for posting, and sending the pingback 😀
YOU ARE MOST DEFINITELY A FELLOW BLOGGER MY FRIEND !
I am going to cast my line into the cold waters, I believe I am what I write, in the reaction and comments plus the years I put in that makes me sure that I have something that can be called writing. I can stand the weight of criticism, be it constructed or otherwise.
Sheldon, The standards for writing are many, and the joy is that each writer can select the set of standards that grants him (or her) the satisfaction desired. I fear that my perspective is more from a technical and commercial aspect of writing and I am just beginning to explore writing form the aspect of personal satisfaction. Thank you for the comment.
I am thank you for at least coming and taking a look , I hope we can at least follow each other, May be I can learn something ,I am always willing to grow and stretch. Thank you again for your consideration
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. – Confucius.
That’s a good point, and I am enjoying Don Charisma’s post as well. Regardless of calling a Wannabe or a Pulitzer winner, the process to express is just beautiful. I think recognition or satisfaction is a by-product. Eventually, it feeds both ‘wannabes’ and ‘writers.’ in personal level and community level. Right, the quality of writing is important for certain standard, but the real issue is why you write and what you want to express. Music is alive with the harmony of various notes. Thank you.
Well said, and thank you.
I shell say: writers for publicity and writers for a purpose. How about that?
Well, we could discuss that. What do you mean by “writers for publicity”? Does that mean they are trying to get attention for their writing–for the sake of personal attention (which I agree happens). Still, that is a “purpose” of sorts. I am not trying to be argumentative, just trying to better understand.
Reblogged this on FMBC of St. Helens, Oregon and commented:
And to think I answered DC with two words: hard work and persistence.
What do you think separates the truly great writers from the general writing pool (rather than all humanity)?
Sharon, If I knew that and shared it with you, we would both be on our way to Best Sellers (and perhaps you are!)! If you look at my post that Don shared, I think the really great writers represent a “perfect storm” of all the attributes discussed and sprinkle in a huge does of inspiration supported by being absolutely driven. Or they got lucky!
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Writers keep writing.
Writers are re-writers.
“The Clairvoyant” is my latest effort at creative writing. It’s a constant, pain filled struggle!
I agree. In my former professional writing life, we had a saying: “It is time to break the author’s pencil and go to print!” Thanks for the comment.