What Makes a Good Writer? You Must Become Remarkable
What makes a good writer? A great writer is remarkable. How do you become remarkable?
Let’s take a lesson from the worlds most popular T.V. service.
Choosing a new show on Netflix is a serious life decision. There’s so much commitment involved in starting a brand new series. I’ve never randomly stumbled across a show and started watching it.
I always choose a new show based on recommendations. That’s why I’m always late on trends. I didn’t start watching Game of Thrones until everybody was watching Game of Thrones.
Word of mouth is still king. To be successful, you have to be worth talking about. You have to be visible.
You have to be remarkable. So what makes a good writer? How do you get people to notice you?
Lots of writers are hitting publish in 2018, but a few dominate all the attention. Why? Because there’s just something about them that’s unique. Their voice and style are impossible to replicate. They’re prolific and seem to pop up on your feed everywhere…all the time.
Is this something you can achieve?
I mean, the market is saturated, right? What can a little ol’ aspiring writer do to stand out from the noise?
There’s no exact recipe for being remarkable – else everyone would know it and use it. But you can learn the ingredients to what makes a good writer and use them to reach the top of the field.
Why I Love Saturated Markets With Too Many Players In Them
I’ve been writing on Medium for a while — perhaps the number one platform for writers today — and I’ve seen something interesting happen over time.
Lots of writers come clamoring to the site for views. They come in waves. With each wave, there are a few who stand out quite a bit. They stick. Then, everyone else quits until a new crop of writers come in.
And those new crops of writers make the remarkable ones stand out even more.
If you’re complaining about too many cooks in the kitchen, your recipe isn’t right yet. Competition does dilute success in the short term, but in the long-term, it creates winners.
If you’d just work on your craft and wait for everyone else to quit, you’d end up with a solid following at worst and become a household name at best.
In a saturated market of unremarkable writers, the dedicated and patient ones stick out like a sore thumb.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t wish failure on anyone — quite the opposite actually — but my observations tell me most people won’t follow through. This is why I created a coaching program in the first place. Not because I’m that great or have information others don’t, but I know how to execute and stay accountable.
That’s 90 percent of the battle.
If you’re new to the game right now. Don’t let your eyes get bigger than your stomach. That’s how you flame out.
Take the cliche advice to write the next post. Why? Because you’re only one blog post away.
You’re Only One Blog Post Away From Changing Your Career
In the span of a few days, Zdravko Cvijetic — a productivity blogger — went from unknown to viral sensation.
His post — 13 Things You Must Give Up to Become Successful — is the #1 blog post in the history of Medium.
That single post earned him 100,000+ subscribers and gave him a launch pad for his productivity business.
It’d be easy to cast it off as luck, but when he spells out his strategy, you’ll realize there were strategies and intentions behind his success.
He budgeted money to increase his hosting plan and email marketing software in case he had a hit on his hands. After the post went viral — his costs jumped from 15$ to $525!
What’s the lesson here?
You can’t guarantee your next post will be a hit, but you can put the elements of a successful post into each one you write:
- Well crafted headlines
- Intriguing sub-headings
- A killer intro
- A motivating call to action
Study these techniques and use them the next time you sit down to write. Be intentional about it. Unremarkable writers “just let it flow” and you can tell. Remarkable ones have a game plan.
What Makes a Good Writer? Being Remarkable
To be remarkable means “to be worth remarking about.” People have to share your work with other people for it to be successful.
How do you make your work remarkable? By doing what others won’t.
If you come across the typical blog posts, it’ll read something like this “5 tips for success.” It will contain 5 homogeneous list items you’ve seen ten times before and you’ll likely click to the next post seconds after reading a few sentences.
How can you be different? Go deep when others go shallow. When they write 500-word pieces, write 5,000-word pieces.
My most successful blog posts are all 3,000+ words long. They meticulously break down the step by step process to perform tasks like writing a book, building a writing habit, and finding fans for your work.
I wrote a guest post on one of the top writing blogs in the world, Smart Blogger, that totaled 10,000+ words and took me 8 months to write. It broke down how I made $10,000 with my most recent book and gave every single step I knew of for self-publishing on Kindle.
Writing that post almost broke my spirit. The editor bordered on being a tyrant, but it was worth it.
That post helped me connect with major influencers in the industry, generate clients, and add a bunch of new fans.
Would you put 8 months of work in for one piece of content?
That’s the type of mental space you need to be in to become a stand out.
Maybe you’re not at the place where you can be in depth yet, but you can begin to adopt these simple practices to help you become more remarkable.
The Career Altering Power of Deliberate Practice
Most writers don’t build their careers on accident.
Sure, there are a few who strike gold, have a post go viral, and land a book deal in one fell swoop, but most of us get here through something called deliberate practice.
Deliberate practice goes a step above just practicing your skill. You do it intentionally — often with a tutor or mentor — and focus on getting better each time in a way that’s much more intentional than randomly practicing now and then.
The year I spent working with an editor at a media site gave me the confidence I needed to do everything I’m doing now.
If you can’t find or afford a teacher, make sure you are focusing on improving your craft and not writing just to write.
Is it worth it to you? The pain, practice, and sacrifice it takes to become a master writer?
If so, deliberate practice is for you.
What’s the difference between deliberate practice and regular practice? Deliberate practice comes with a sense of serious concentration.
When you revise your work, you stress over every line and detail. You focus on the message you’re trying to get across and whether it’s coming across the right way. You go back through your writing and analyze each line to make sure it needs to be there.
As Stephen King says, “Kill your darlings.”
It’s hard to muster up the energy and conviction to complete the first draft, let alone remove a quarter of it and re-write it, but that’s what makes a good writer.
If you visit websites like Medium, you’ll find poorly constructed posts that appear to be first drafts. This is how you get lost in the abyss.
Being deliberate gives you an edge over the competition by giving serious thoughts to all elements of your writing.
So we talked about what makes a good writer, but what makes a great writer? To be great, you must change your relationship with the negative emotions that inevitably come with being a writer.
Fall in Love With Frustration
Ugh. Don’t you hate the feeling of disliking your writing while you write?
You can feel it. Each sentence you type feels like rubbish. Each keystroke makes you want to stop. You already know the end result won’t be what you had in mind.
In your mind, you’re a creative genius. When you’re not writing the ideas bounce between your neurons seamlessly, but the minute it’s time to sit down and put those words on the page, those magnificent sentences disappear.
What do you do with the uneasiness of crafting words people may or may not like?
Learn how to fall in love with frustration.
The stoic philosophers having a saying — amor fati — it means to love what happens to you no matter what. With writing, you have to learn to love the frustration, because the frustration makes you good.
The frustration weeds out the pretenders. It’s the litmus test you must pass to have a writing career of consequence.
I’m not the type who believes you have to toil away in obscurity for years before you find success, far from it. But you do have to pay the price in blood, sweat, and keystrokes.
You need creative callouses. Just like scraping your hand on a metal bar and skin getting tougher, you’ll end up with more mental bumps and bruises than you can count, but you will get to a point where you know you’ll never quit.
That’s where you enter remarkable territory — because you have certainty.
Become Certain of Your Ultimate Destination
You can tell when a writer is uncertain.
The words are controlling them when it should be the other way around.
After you move through the frustration of practicing a lot, you’ll get that point where you’re not necessarily sure everything you touch will turn to gold, but you know your long-term view is bright.
You don’t have doubts about whether or not you can write. You just know it and feel it. Other people feel it too.
You find yourself in a flow state. You’re making the keyboard bend to your will.
Odds are you’re not certain yet.
That’s okay. I know exactly where you’re at right now.
But if you keep practicing, you’ll adopt all the qualities of a good writer from creating compelling headlines and intros to talking to the reader like a friend to having conviction behind the things you assert.
In reality, being remarkable has much less to do with style and much more to do with attitude.
When you turn pro, stop playing small, and label yourself a professional before you achieve success, you put yourself in a position to be one of those unique writers with all of the standard characteristics of a good writer plus your own unique twist in style.
Counterintuitively, all great writers are the same in that they just practice and hustle longer than everyone else.
In a world where most quit, that’s the most remarkable trait you can have.