I came upon a great article by Damien Farnworth that I find worth sharing. It hit home for me, so I thought it might do the same for others.
Damien was on a quest for remarkable writers, not just your typical run-of-the-mill writer. He searched for qualities that no other profession could claim. For instance, some qualities can span the board – like perseverance, reading, reading and more reading, focus – but these were too broad to make Damien’s list.
To be honest, I was hoping I found myself in his list. Can you find you?
1. Remarkable writers have the ability to size up content
A remarkable writer can:
- Scan a sales letter and immediately identify specific problems … and then articulate the solution to those problems.
- Read a story and pinpoint where the story fails — and why.
- Review a speech and offer advice on how to make a lecture open and close with a bang.
Other professions do the same thing in their fields — programmers with software code or military strategists with an enemy’s battle plan. What makes this unique to writers is that it lies in the mechanics of the language.
We might be able to make an argument that editors can size up content, but in the end I might argue they are good writers.
Let’s keep trying.
2. Remarkable writers are able to connect the dots
A remarkable writer is a visionary of sorts.
Although you might find her with her nose in the spine of a book (in a room strewn with scattered volumes), she’s actually 30,000 feet above, scanning her mental landscape, spotting potential material and logging these ideas away.
She’s doing this subconsciously, but it’s just a matter of time before something clicks, a web of associations light up — and she sees something she’s never seen before:
- How to bring that character to life.
- How to close that blog post.
- How to tap into an emotion.
In essence, she’s a problem solver.
But so are entrepreneurs. Electricians. College football coaches. You could argue that exceptional problem-solving skills are one thing that separates the average from the remarkable in all these fields.
So what do problem-solving writers do uniquely that no other profession does? Again, they do it with sentences. Paragraphs. The building blocks of their trade.
But still, nothing entirely original here. We need to move on to the next point.
3. Remarkable writers can express ideas clearly
One of the reasons that I find new social situations awkward (and can come across as shy) is because I’m often reluctant to open my mouth and commit to a position until I’ve thought it through.
The last thing I want to do is sound dumb.
During a conversation I can have several responses to one question — but those responses are muddied with emotions and half-baked positions. What I long to do is sit down and sift through those thoughts on paper — after the conversation.
I’m not alone. This is how novelist and short story writer Mary Gaitskill expressed it:
Writing is in some way being able to sit down the next day and go through everything you wanted to say, finding the right words, giving shape to the images, and linking them to feelings and thoughts. It isn’t exactly like a social conversation because you aren’t giving information in the usual sense of the word or flirting or persuading anyone of anything or proving a point; it’s more that you are revealing something whole in the form of a character, a city, a moment, an image seen in a flash out of a character’s eyes.
This ability is unique to writers (especially of the introverted variety).
On a side note, I’ve learned how to inject my opinion in conversations without feeling dumb by saying “I’m thinking out loud here,” and then talk to them as if I was writing.