What makes a good writer?

What makes a good writer?

Geneva Kelly

Are you a writer, or insane enough to love one?

Suppose you had the chance to sit down with one of your favorite authors. Who would it be, and what would you ask?

If you’re the writer chances are you’ll ask: What was your inspiration? How did you get your big break? How long did it take before your work got accepted? My question would be, “What do I need to do, to become a successfully-known writer?”

If you are a writer’s lover on the other hand, your question may be, “When will they stop questioning everything?” I’ll make that one easy for you by saying NEVER.The word Write on a cork notice board

Just the other day he called me dramatic—my lover that is. It’s not my fault my story was about him! I could blame it on his eyes. I could say he threw me into a frenzy of anger because loving him is painful. Or I could do what I did: tell him that I remember everything he’s ever said! Blame it on the writer— not the girl.

Over the years I’ve wondered when and where, why and how for just about everything imaginable. But the one thing I have never wondered is what makes a good writer. It seems to be the only thing that makes total sense to me.

Being a good writer means creating stories in the middle of doing something else, without even expecting it to happen. It means being in tune with the world; being able to laugh at it, when you want to throw your hands up and slap the shit out of somebody. It means being Clark Kent at your day job, just so you can pay your bills on time, while locking up bad guys at night with the strength of your pen.

It also means relating to pain with compassion, or total disregard; whatever works best for the story. It’s knowing that at the end of the paper you spilled your guts, no matter what the outcome. You had no choice but to get it out!

I’m aware that my writing comes from a place that sometimes has nothing to do with me. It comes from a place I’m unfamiliar with and don’t even care to question. I can’t say that about much of anything else in life.

You know you are a good writer if what you write moves others to places that make them laugh, and cry. But you also have to be willing to laugh at yourself. I believe honesty has a vulnerability that can break through steel. Writers are taught that good writing means more than telling someone you had the best day of your life; a good writer shows them what if feels like to jump out of that plane (even if you bump your head on the way down).

A good writer is an architect. She enjoys straightening out the lovely mess in her head and structuring the roles of the ten or more people living there.

On the other hand- if you are the one in love with a writer, there are a few things you should know. You should be:

  1. Crazy.
  2. Patient. There are times when you will have to be more supportive than you want. (Like when your lover stops you mid-sentence because something you said just gave them a new idea for a story.)
  3. INTERESTING. Writers just don’t do BORING very well.  Sorry for the bluntness, but at times we have to make something out of nothing and in order to do that, we need some inspiration.
  4. Good in bed. Ok- this could just be a personal opinion, but writers are liberated by passion. We breathe it, sleep it, see it when it barely exists; if you want to see our creative juices flowing- it’s simple: get them flowing.

After reading Stephen King’s memoir, On Writing, I thought it was awesome that he emphasized how his wife’s unwavering belief in him pushed him forward. He said, had she doubted him, he may have given up on himself. For me, this confirmed the importance of supportive people in our lives.

I am intensely against horror films, so reading anything from Stephen King would seem almost unheard of to someone who knows me well. Something about a man chasing me down the hall with a large knife and a crazy grin, just doesn’t do it for me. Though now, I am able to understand the writing behind it, and I’m intrigued by how this man has mastered the craft.

I never expected him to have such a sense of humor; never expected to relate to his writing either. But after reading about his life, he no longer seemed so creepy. After I finished the book, I even listened to the CDs. Hearing Stephen’s explanation of his story inspirations, amazed me.

I got a kick out of it when my son’s father questioned why I, (of all people) was listening to Steven King? While he (of all people) was listening to Pastor Joyce Myer (after my suggestion). I’m laughing because Joyce doesn’t care for horror films either. Though I’m pretty sure she would say, “Love the man, not his actions.”

There are plenty of things I say and do that I’m sure will warrant forgiveness. But I think as far as writing goes, I wouldn’t  forgive myself if I didn’t make it my business to share my stories with the world. Even with all my misspelled words, and failed attempts at punctuation; if I didn’t write, I would not know my purpose.

So I think that’s what makes a writer good. When you can’t think of anything else that you crave doing; when you have to make a story of something, nothing, anything, or—you know- your lover.

If plain yes and no just don’t work for you because all the details matter; or if you can describe the way something tastes, smells or feels, so that someone else can enjoy it just the way you did- then you know you are on the right track. And if by not writing, it feels like someone took out one of your lungs, and the only way to breathe is to write that breath back into your life- then you know you are a good writer.

     Oh man- I am dramatic!

4 Responses to “What makes a good writer?”

  1. Tony

    Very inspiring words as felt by Geneva, you read it once and you understand her words, read it twice and you will understand her feelings. You can sense the seriousness of her words with a touch of humor and the importance to use our imagination. Well done!

  2. Michelle J

    I thought this article was very inspiring. I really enjoyed reading all of the different factors involved in becoming a great writer. Hopefully one day my inspiration will bring my words onto paper.

  3. Mel Z

    Geneva Kelly’s article, “What makes a good writer,” was interesting, inspiring and written from the heart. She used just the right words to say just the right things about being a writer. I look forward to reading more from Geneva.
    Mel Z


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