“If I waited till I felt like writing, I’d never write at all.”
~ Anne Tyler
So, you write (most of us do). Writing is one of those unavoidable parts of life that can be quite tiresome if you tend to think “you’re bad at it.” Okay, if you’re bad at writing, I’m probably bad too. Do you even have an idea of what you consider “good” writing? If you feel the urge to say I’m a good writer, thank you, and perhaps you’re right (or perhaps you’re wrong). What constitutes good writing is as subjective as beauty (or taste in food).
Either way writing is so diverse that there is no true measuring stick for deciding what good writing entails. In fact, I gave out a survey to two first-year writing classes to hear what new college students think about writing, and here is what they thought were skills good writers have:
- Good balance of formal and informal language
- Meeting deadlines
- Making good points
- Thesis statement (topic sentences)
- Good paragraphs (organization)
- Discipline (focus)
- Showing not telling
- Grammar (Saw this one multiple times)
- Preliminary thought (outlining)
- “They can shoot lasers out of their eyes” (Really? I have never mastered that skill, but maybe that’s my failing as a writer)
So how do you stack up in the list of good skills? Honestly, I’m not sure I stack up as well as I thought I would (and I consider my self a good writer… though I’m always needing some improvement!).
Out of the first-year students that I surveyed, 58% thought they were good writers, and 42% did not consider themselves good writers. Shockingly, even though the question was Yes or No, I got two responses of “7/10.” It was an interesting response. Naturally, laser-eyes said that “I can’t shoot lasers out of my eyes :(” So, can you shoot lasers from you eyes? If not, don’t fret. I’m fairly certain most writers can’t… But I’m only about 7/10 sure!
Yet, if this list is what is required, how many of those students consider themselves in possession of those traits… They may not comprehend that they possess those skills, but I’m positive many of them do.