What is good writing?

What makes a writer good? What makes a written piece good? There is form, grammar, emotional content, clarity, so on. There are conventions of what makes any craft good. And there are pieces of written work that most people can agree are very, very well crafted and written. But then there are also the rule breakers and innovators that create whole new forms of expression just by following the impulse of creativity.

Even more, what is ‘good’? Who decides what good is? Publishers? Editors? Critics? The public? It seems more than a little subjective.

I get caught up sometimes in the sea of my own ego. I naturally want what I write to be good, great even. I want others to read and enjoy it. I think that is pretty normal. But I don’t want to be harshly criticized either. Who wants that? Where do you draw the line between helpful feedback and soul crushing criticism?

I think writing, all creative works really, has stages of growth. In the germination stage the work is percolating in the mind and the author is gathering information, writing drafts and testing ideas. Then is the sprout stage, where the work has taken shape and is moving along; the author is writing, rewriting and shaping, but there is more work to be done. Next is the plant stage, where the work has matured and is fully functioning, all the parts are there, it is all hanging together; most of the work is now done and the author has a pretty clear idea of what is important in the work and what is not. Finally there is the full flower, the work is complete and ready to be launched and published and polished.

I think editing and revisions, feedback and critiques, are best left until the plant stage. Jump too soon into the reviewing cycle and the creative juice can get squashed. Having spent far too much time thinking about writing than actually writing, I know how easy it is to get too far ahead of yourself, demanding that a seedling be a flower with no room for error. Creation is a process that is sensitive at the beginning. You are baring your soul and getting vulnerable. This is not a time to start asking anyone what they think. At this point, the only person that matters is you.

Later on, when the ideas and the work have matured, it might be wise to get unbiased helpful advice from a mentor or friend. Be clear about what kind of feedback you want. Are you curious about the clarity? Do you need help with grammar? What about structure and flow?

I have more questions than answers. What I do know is that I love this safe haven I have created for myself in this blog. I gave myself two rules: write from the heart; and write everyday. It has launched in me more ideas than I thought possible and I have witnessed my writing grow and develop. I seem to learn best by just doing it, just letting go of fear and starting where I am. I write.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. amyauthorblog
    Apr 19, 2012 @ 05:42:20

    WONDERFUL! Really honest and heartfelt post! Great job!


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