Don’t Try to be a Great Writer

Social media is awash with advice and opinion on how to be a great writer as if there is some kind of magic bullet.
There are some rather obvious traits that seem universal –

  • Read widely
  • Write as much as you can
  • Be passionate and believe in yourself

Is this enough?

No, the first thing you should do is stop trying to be a great writer, don’t even think in those terms. It is limiting and self-defeating. You should instead be the best writer you can.
This, of course, is easier said than done. The first trick is to be passionate and believe in yourself. Think of yourself not as a writer but as an artist.

What makes a great artist?

Think on any great work of art. What made the artist so great?
They were passionate and they had vision. Vision of what their art could be and vision of what they could be.
They may have sketched it first. And again. And again. Maybe twenty or a hundred times. Writers call these drafts.
There may be dozens of those finished paintings in existence. Why? Because the artist wasn’t happy with them. They weren’t finished and they didn’t match the vision. They then may have tried painting it with different materials, different canvases and in different light.

Hands Leonardo (Windsor Castle)

But isn’t this just about perfecting the technique?

Yes and no. Because while you’re growing technically you’re allowing the art and the artist emerge. You’re finding yourself  and allowing greatness to find you.

Am I a great writer?

No. I don’t read enough and I don’t write enough. But I am passionate and I know I will be a great writer. For now I’m enjoying the journey and all the practice. My technique is improving and I have a clear vision.

Greatness will have to wait until I’m ready for it.

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