There is a two-year old article in Inc. magazine by Kaleigh Moore titled ‘6 Characteristics Every Great Write Has in Common’, which I found interesting. Ms Moore’s website says, “I write blog content for eCommerce platforms and the SaaS tools that integrate with them. I’ve been hired by top companies on the Fortune 500 as well as growing SaaS companies. Some of my past and present clients include AT&T, ReCharge Payments, Shopify, and IBM. I also write about retail for major publications like Forbes, Vogue Business, and Adweek.”
While it is unclear where Ms Moore gets the expertise to write about writers, perhaps she is self-taught. Here is what she said:
“It’s hard to know if you’re a good writer–especially if no one has ever torn apart a piece you’ve written or “ooohed” and “ahhhed” over your work. But one of the easiest ways to spot a great writer is through the qualities he/she exhibits on a daily basis.
These qualities are essential for an effective writer because they spotlight a certain devotion and openness–both of which are necessary to achieve writing greatness. Read through this list and see if you line up with the 6 most important qualities of an effective writer.
1. Attention to Detail
Great writers are observers, always taking mental notes and noting subtle changes around them. This attention to detail not only makes them fantastic editors who can spot the smallest grammatical error during a read-through, but it adds a special touch to their writing, too. No descriptive detail gets left behind.
Writers who excel are familiar with frustration because re-writes, edits, and improvements all come by maintaining a disciplined approach to writing. Great writers are devoted to constantly re-evaluating their work, no matter how small the task may be. They focus on their craft and are constantly working to get better through intense discipline.
An effective writer is able to distil complex thoughts and ideas into simple, clear language that’s quickly and easily understood by others. This valuable quality helps them tackle even the densest subject matter by breaking it down into uncomplicated pieces.
4. Strong Vocabulary
No one likes to read the same words over and over again, so a strong, robust vocabulary is an asset to any good writer. Incorporating interesting and unusual words into their writing, this skill helps them maintain a reader’s interest and allows them to communicate more effectively by accessing the perfect word for any situation.
5. Open to Changes
Being open to external edits and suggestions is key for exceptional writers because it enables them to improve their writing, even though it might damage their ego in the meantime. Open-mindedness allows them to see their work through the eyes of others and improve weak points.
6. Passion for Reading
Voracious readers often make great writers, because being immersed in a world of words helps one better understand the nuts and bolts of writing (like syntax, tone, framing, etc.) The more one reads, the more learned he/she becomes on all of the different writing tools and stylistic angles that exist.”
The Self-Publishing School website lists these five characteristics of authors: Exercise Patience, Apply Consistency, Practise Optimism, Value Criticism and Be Empathetic.
It seems to me that Discipline and Apply Consistency and both Discipline; and Open to Changes and Value Criticism are both Value Criticism. For me, both characteristics are important.
Attention to Detail is important in the text one produces, but being observant of what goes on around you is less important than Being Empathetic; after all, novels are ’empathy machines’.
Clarity is definitely important, and rather than Strong Vocabulary, I would say Excellent Command of English, as being a general skill.
Passion for reading, as Ms Moore says, is important.
Patience can be a useful trait, but I think that if one is Disciplined, one must necessarily also be patient
Practise Optimism doesn’t feel right for me. While I am an optimist, I think the valuable trait is Be Motivated. In other words, I think it’s OK to be a pessimist as long as you’re motivated.
For me there is one essential ingredient, particularly if one is a novelist, that is left off both lists: Creativity
My list of the top 8 characteristics is therefore:
- Be Empathetic
- Be Disciplined
- Be Motivated
- Be Creative
- Excellent Command of English
- Open to Changes
- Passion for Reading