Don’t Be Afraid to Say, “I Am a Good Writer”

eing good at something does not make you better, smarter or more important than anyone else.


Sometimes we doubt ourselves. We give in to the lies imposter syndrome flashes into our faces. We’re not that great. We’re just trying our best. I’ve been struggling with this lately, thinking I’m not really that great of a writer regardless of how many clients have voiced opinions that differ.

And no, I am not the best, either. (Is there a best writer? That’s a question for another post.) But I spent a few hours editing this evening for a client, something I have not done in almost a year (how time flies!). Something happens when you proofread unpublished writings. It’s nothing personal and these were fairly well written articles. But they reminded me that I know what I’m doing … I’m not that bad of a writer after all.

In fact, I might even be a good one.

This is something that is very hard for me to say. It makes me feel icky. Or it did. Until I realized there isn’t anything wrong with saying you are good at something. We often mistake confidence for arrogance, which we really need to be careful about. Because here’s the thing: if you are good at writing, you are going to have to prove that to an employer or a client or an agent. And self-confidence is part of that. A portfolio filled with sample work means nothing if you pour gallons of doubt all over it.

What I think you may need to hear today is this.

Being good at something does not make you better, smarter or more important than anyone else. It just makes you more skilled and more experienced – skills and experience you have earned through long, tiring hours of storytelling. Saying you are a good writer acknowledges that you have taken the time and put in the effort to work your way up from nothing. You know how to make words flow like brush strokes, or music notes. You know not because it makes you superior, but because it is the truth.

There are ways to be classy about casually mentioning this, of course. Highlighting your accomplishments, at the appropriate times in the appropriate places, is the safe and far more traveled route. Confidence is striking, but it is something you need to build up if you want to use your skills professionally or turn writing into a fulfilling and successful hobby.

So go ahead. Say it out loud. “I am a good writer.” Say it until you mean it.

And if you are struggling to believe you are a ‘good’ writer – or even a writer at all – stay tuned. I have another post coming for you. Until then, get back to writing!

Meg is the creator of Novelty Revisions, dedicated to helping writers put their ideas into words. She is a freelance writer and an eight-time NaNoWriMo winner with work published in Teen Ink, Success Story, Lifehack and USA TODAY College. Follow Meg on Twitter for tweets about writing, food and nerdy things.

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What Are the Rules of Good Writing … Really?

Not everyone can write a story well … yet.


Let’s be honest here: anyone can write a story.

Not everyone can write a story well, though. And saying that doesn’t imply that someone who doesn’t write well isn’t capable of writing good stories. It can take years to learn not only how to write well, but to incorporate good writing into your own personal style.

Every writer has their own idea of what good writing means, but in general, some rules are universal. Here are a few.

Write the way you talk

The most unrealistic stories, the ones most difficult to get lost within, are sometimes those whose word choice just isn’t believable. This goes for both dialogue and narration. Sentences need to be simple and ideas need to be communicated clearly. Think of the conversations you have with your friends. When you elaborate on things, you use the simplest language possible so that everyone in the room can understand you. You don’t do it on purpose; it’s just habit. Form that same habit in your writing as well.

Vary the lengths of your sentences

This is all about flow. Think of how music sounds. It’s made up of short and long notes. They keep the song interesting. Was it really hard for you to read those last four sentences? Of course it was, because they were all relatively the same length. Your prose, even in the length of your sentences, cannot be predictable. Variety is essential, even when we’re looking at the most basic elements of writing.

Prioritize your verbs

This is not to say you aren’t allowed to use adjectives and adverbs. Adjectives and adverbs are the whipped cream on top of your pie: verbs (and nouns) must come first. They ARE the pie. They drive your prose forward and give audiences a reason to keep reading. There are those out there who skip over colorful descriptions. Not everyone likes whipped cream.

Stay positive

No, not optimistic (though, as a writer, that’s important too). You might write, “I don’t ever want to catch him not being honest with me again,” and most of your audience, after a few read-throughs, might understand what you mean. But this is avery negative sentence, in that its structure puts negatory language at the forefront. Instead, write, “I never want to catch him being dishonest with me again” or “I never want to catch him lying to me again.” It’s shorter and easier to understand that way.

Good writing takes practice. No matter how experienced you are, you will still catch yourself making mistakes. What makes a good writer is that they learn to recognize and correct these mistakes. The more you study good writing, the better writer you will become.

What’s the “good writing” rule you struggle with the most? Are you getting better at catching yourself making the same mistakes? What has helped you learn to recognize them?

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Perks of Good Writing You Probably Haven’t Thought Of

So you’re a good writer. You’re probably going to be able to get some kind of writing job. HURRAY! But how else can your skills help you in life?


Writers often find themselves in two camps at the same time: writing for ‘fun’ and writing for work.

On our own time, writing allows us to explore new worlds, share stories with imaginary or real audiences and fulfills us in a way not many other things can.

Employers hire good writers because they’re good at telling stories, convincing people to buy things and branding. Good writers communicate messages and information in a way that makes audiences understand and act on them, which makes us pretty marketable, all things considered.

Good writing helps us fulfill our deepest, darkest ambitions and sometimes helps us get jobs, too. But that’s not all it’s good for, you know.

It has hidden benefits outside the professional world, benefits you might not have thought of before. Here are a few.

It makes people think you’re smart

You already are smart. Really! But have you ever received an email from someone that just doesn’t read right? They’re missing words or don’t finish thoughts. They mean to come off as professional but certainly don’t come off as sounding intelligent – even if they are!

The same goes for blog posts or any other form of online communication. If you can’t clearly outline your argument or make your point clear, people aren’t going to take you seriously.

You don’t have to write everything like you would a research paper. But choose your words, and the way you present them, carefully.

It convinces people to pay attention to your ideas

Have you ever scrolled through Facebook comments (not recommended) and completely skipped over the ones that just don’t make sense because of the way they’re written? Poor spelling and grammar (plus disorganized ideas, contradictory sentences, etc.) not only makes you look pretty dumb, it completely strips you of any credibility you might have otherwise had. (Unless English isn’t your first language, there’s really no reason to still be having this problem.)

People won’t pay attention to the point you’re trying to make underneath all the mess because they can’t get past the way you’ve worded things or how you’re presenting your argument.

It may just be social media, but it’s a wonderful place to spread ideas if used correctly. Dive in with words as your shield and all the hateful comments (maybe) sort of might not hurt your ego so much.

It could get you a date

Wait, what? Okay, so this one’s a little ‘out there,’ but think about it. Why do people turn to online dating in the first place? Because they want to get to know as much about someone as possible before actually taking the time to hang out with them.

It’s easier. It’s convenient. People can decide, by photos and minimal biographical information, whether they want to give a person a chance or not.

Which means what you write on there is your way of getting someone’s attention and drawing them in. Sort of like pitching an article, except you’re pitching your best qualities in hopes someone will meet you for coffee. Or something.

You have storytelling skills, darn it! Use them!

Developing your writing skills doesn’t just make you marketable as a professional. It makes you marketable as a person in the real world, too.

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Three Ways You’re Sabotaging Your Credibility as a Writer (and How to Fix Them)


In doing research last night for an upcoming article, I discovered something soul-crushing: two websites whose copywriters and content editors allowed the use of “towards” on their web pages.

These were semi-credible organizations, not blogs or sketchy dot coms. I’m still in a state of shock that I came across not one, but two of these grammatical crimes in a row. Do you think I used anything I found on those pages for my article, or even finished reading them through? If you guessed no, you’re my new favorite person.

You might have great ideas, and the potential to make people really listen to what you have to say. If your writing shocks people the way these writers shocked me—and “shock” here is not used in a positive light, either—you’re not going to get very far. Here’s what you might be missing in your own online work, and you can do, as a writer, to make sure you’re not even unintentionally ruining your own credibility.

Infuriating the Internet’s Grammar Enforcement Squad

If you’ve been writing for a while—and hopefully, if you’re posting online, you have—you’re no stranger to basic grammar and style laws. Avoid starting sentences with because. Set an excellent example, not a awful one. However, based on my recent findings, it’s clear some rules are less commonly followed in the general online community, and in all honesty, you’re going to draw the wrong kind of attention from editors and the like if you’re not careful.

I can’t speak for all editors, but when I’m doing basic research and stumble upon an article or web page with obvious (to me) grammar mistakes, I hit the back button. I stop reading. This is neither good for you nor the publication, website or organization you’re writing for. Know the audience you are writing for and what style you should be following, then follow it. (Side note: AP Stylebook says, “toward, forward, afterward”).

Using Idioms and Clichés

Not to beat a dead horse … but really, don’t. You’re not in fourth grade English class anymore (and if you are, by all means, finish reading this and then get back to your essay—in time you will learn the ways of the Jedi, young padawan). I just read an article claiming clichés are “bad” writing and idioms are “good” writing. What? Please, if you agree with this statement, tell me. I’d love to hear your argument; at present I fail to see the merit in this.

There are certainly ways to incorporate idioms into your work to give it a little kick, but if you can avoid it, do so. It is very easy to slip them in without noticing, and for the most part, if you use one every once in awhile, no one will notice. If you start doing the tango with clichés, though, you’re going to lose a lot of readers. And if you’re not quite sure what the difference is between the two, I’ll write up a post in the near future that goes into detail. I would link to the article I found, but I’m just a little skeptical.

Empty Prose 

I may be the pot calling the kettle black (see? CRINGE!), but you can rack up a lot of words and pretty-sounding prose yet say absolutely nothing of value in an entire piece of writing. Let my work serve as proof that it can take a long time, and a lot of practice, to refine your writing skills. I’m still teaching myself how to reconstruct sentences to say more in fewer words. You might notice I still slip back into bad habits in these blog posts; if you want to call me out on it, kudos to you. I won’t be offended.

There are dozens of different ways to say the same thing in only several paragraphs, and it’s easy to repeat yourself without even realizing you’re doing it. Once you start tossing in too many adjectives and a generous portion of fluff (and not the good kind), your writing starts to lose its once delicious meaning. It’s important to learn how to shift your focus away from how a sentence sounds and more toward the meaning behind it before you go back and make sure it doesn’t sound … well, like a fourth grader wrote it.

Take the right steps toward establishing yourself as a credible writer. With so many people posting online today, it’s hard to know someone’s background and whether or not you can trust them to give you writing advice, or even if you should trust them enough to read your work. Paying attention to their writing can give you clues, but keep in mind they’re doing the exact same thing to you.

Market yourself as an intelligent and skilled writer. You’ll be amazed at where that takes you.

Love&hugs, Meg<3

Image courtesy of Novelty Revisions.

A recent graduate with a B.A. in English and a completed major in nutrition, currently seeking a graduate degree in health communication, Meg is a twenty-something workaholic with a passion for writing, coffee and dietetics. In addition to her status as an aspiring novelist and Grammar Nazi (and the mastermind behind this site), Meg is an editor for College Lifestyles magazine and a guest blogger for Food & Nutrition Magazine’s Stone Soup.  She is a seven-time NaNoWriMo winner and has written several creative pieces for Teen Ink magazine. Follow Meg on Twitter.