Two Secrets to Writing: Have a Take, and Don’t Suck

Mar 6, 2010

One of my creative writing professors in college once said there are only two real secrets to great writing. I was skeptical; why was I taking class after class if there were only two things to learn? Of course, these two secrets are broad, and much of what I’ve learned through classes, workshops, and experience over the years has fit into one or the other. Curious about these secrets? Well then, compliments of my professor, here you go.

1. Be true to yourself and write what matters to you.

If it’s not important to you, it won’t be important to your reader. This may cause a bit of fear in a writer. After all, if you’re writing what matters to you, you are opening yourself up and becoming vulnerable. Some writers may fear what others may think of them, and that they will be judged by what they write. You need to be willing to face that and write it anyway. Believe that what you have to say will be important to others. Writing that doesn’t keep you up at night won’t keep your reader up either! People who write well are fairly common. The rarities are those who are honest! The best way to be original is to be true to yourself.

2. Don’t bore your reader.

In other words, write well! Of course, you can never please everyone, but a general rule of thumb is not to bore yourself. If you find you’re getting bored, your reader most certainly will be. The key to writing well is to PRACTICE. You wouldn’t expect to be a concert pianist without hours of practice, and the same holds true for writing. Hard work is a better horse to ride than talent any day! Be willing to write and write and write and throw the bad things away and write some more.

So, to boil it down to the basics, the first two elements of writing are: “Have a take, and don’t suck!”


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