A recent study identified three key traits all good writers have in common. How many of the boxes can you check?
1. Good Writers Express Themselves Succinctly
As short story author Mary Gaitskill puts it:
‘Writing is … being able to … go through everything you wanted to say, finding the right words, giving shape to the images, and linking them to feelings and thoughts.’
Good writers don’t waffle or get caught up in the detail. Instead they get to the nub of their argument and use the ‘best words, in the best order’ to express it.
2. They read. A lot
Ezra Pound famously said:
‘Literature does not exist in a vacuum.’
Nothing inspires us as much as what we read. Other writer’s ideas and forms of expression give birth to new thoughts in our own heads.
Reading inspires us. It improves our vocabulary. And it gives us an insight into ‘how it’s done’.
When Nobel prize winner Jose Sarama was recently asked about his daily writing routine. He said:
‘I write two pages. And then I read and read and read.’
3. Great Writers are Addicts.
Drugs. Alcohol. Plenty of the best known writers have been hooked on substances but I’m referring to addiction of a different kind here.
Truly great writers are addicted to the art of writing itself. For them the discipline isn’t sitting down at their desk, it’s getting up again afterwards.
These writers carry notebooks about. They don’t look for the perfect writing spot. They’ll write anywhere. On the Tube. Waiting for the bus. Under a tree or in a noisy café. It doesn’t matter. So long as they’re writing, they’re happy.