What is Good Writing?

Concepts relating to creativity are sometimes slippery, hard to define. It can be difficult to strike off on a mission to become a ‘better writer’ when there really isn’t a definition of what that means.

In essence, to me, good writing can be broadly defined as words that create images in readers’ minds and captivate them. To go even further, one of my own measures of writing quality is what happens when I reach the end of something I’m reading. If I feel listless and can detect a vague sadness that the story is over, and can tell that I’m wondering where to look to find something else like it, the quality was beyond good. That doesn’t happen often enough.

Every once in a while, you come across something that helps wrap your arms around the creative process, slippery as it remains. The other day, while reading a piece online about the evolution of self publishing, there was a link to a commencement address by Neil Gaiman, given recently at the University of the Arts. It’s titled, “Make Good Art,” and even though it’s about 20 minutes long, if you are interested in working as a writer, photographer, videographer – or in virtually any facet of the arts – it’s worth carving out the time to watch it.

He addresses writing more than other pursuits, and one passage having to do with voice really struck a chord with me, given that I believe development of a signature voice is the brass ring writers should reach for…

“The urge, starting out, is to copy, and that’s not a bad thing; most of us only find our own voices after we’ve sounded like a lot of other people. But the one thing that you have, that nobody else has, is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write as only you can.”

Here is the link to the video: http://vimeo.com/42372767

Leave a Reply