Your Own Greatness as a Writer


Part of developing success as a writer is about being conscious of what makes you good, or even great.

Many writers are shy types, or introverts who are packed with self-doubt. In fact, it’s often this questioning of themselves which drives their writing — I know several writers who write to ‘escape from themselves’, or who are trying, through inventing fiction, to process their own lives and bring about some kind of resolution to various undefined problems which they experience in simply living. For such people, the idea of looking within themselves to isolate those things which make them strong and powerful as writers (or even as people) is anathema: to find positive qualities in themselves is not only hard for these types, but is sometimes vigorously resisted by them.

But successful people usually have some idea of why they are successful. And most often, these reasons are not bland or universal, but highly particular and even unique to the individual.

Everyone has their own traits, quirks, mannerisms, foibles, habits — and it is often these specific attributes which other people love about them.

How do you find out what these things are for you?

You could do worse than ponder this series of questions. (If it makes this task any easier, I've angled these to be answered as a writer, rather than as a human being.)

Does your writing make people laugh?

Could your writing be considered intelligent? How so?

Is your writing honest? i.e. do you take pains to remove any sentimentality or romanticism from your work?

Conversely, is your writing romantic and escapist?

What filters does your writing have? Or do you try to remove any kind of filter?

What do most readers most commonly admire about your work?

Ask yourself these questions.

Write down all of your answers.

Go as deep as you can — don’t necessarily accept the first answer you come up with.

Your answers may reveal patterns or themes or traits in your work as a writer.

Look these over and see which ones appeal to you — what aspects of them interest you? How would you like to develop those?

Break this all down: what three traits are most recognisably ‘yours’ when it comes to writing?

Are your readers expecting you to be funny? Or dark? Or intellectually interesting? Or colourful? Or something else which you may have never considered?

Finding your unique traits isn’t about ego — it’s about recognising qualities in yourself which can lead to the motherlode of success as a writer — and maybe even as a person.

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