Let’s Take Back ‘Good’ Writing

The internet lies, people

photo: Marco Xu on Unsplash

Writers, you know this.

But somewhere between creating that perfect paragraph and getting people to read it, you’ve forgotten the difference between excellent writing and the clickable, scannable kind.

You’ve clicked one too many times on articles titled,

“3 Steps to Becoming the Best Writer Ever: hint — they don’t require you to actually say anything!”

They’ve fed you lines about generating the perfect title, keeping syntax simple, and adding flashy images.

If you write solely to get “likes” or “claps,” these articles offer valuable guidance. If your objective is to improve the more complex skills associated with written communication, however, they fall short every time.

In the spirit of giving, I’ll admit they aren’t without truth, and I’m sure the authors mean well. But they’re helping-not-helping.

It’s like when Skittles advertises itself as a “fat free food.” Marketing geniuses pander to an unthinking public with tunnel-vision. Fat free? That makes it diet food!

If you want to grow as a writer, improve your clarity, shrink the distance between brain and paper (or laptop), and produce authentic, meaningful work, the path is simple.

READ A BOOK

When you finish, pick up another one. Find authors you want to emulate and absorb that crap like it’s Bath & Body Works.

Excellent writers read. They just do. You don’t need formulas or 5-step programs, you need Kevin Baker, Laura Hillenbrand, Andy Borowitz.

And while I’m at it, let’s remember there used to be a time when well-written pieces challenged us.

And we loved it. Maybe not in the moment, but later…like power squats.

Let us not write to a 6th grade reading level because we fear being inaccessible. Let’s Dickens the hell out of our poor, unsuspecting readers.

Fun Fact: I powered through A Tale of Two Cities in my early twenties. Voluntarily. It took me months to finish, and I needed a pocket dictionary every five words.

When completed, I felt elated. And flattened.

Good writing should make us better, not comfortable.


This suggestion comes to you free from a rookie freelance writer with six whole followers on this madhouse (Thanks again, Mo!).

That is all.