What is ‘Good Writing’?

Good writing is completely subjective. This is why Dan Brown is a best-seller yet I find him so unreadable I want to gauge out my eyes to avoid the chance of having to read even another sentence by him. If you’re a Dan Brown fan and you’re reading this – you’re proving my point. Some people think he’s a good writer. And I won’t apologise for not being one of them. When it comes to books, I’m a snob.

If this is the case, how do you know what good writing is? What are you aiming for, as a writer?

Something I’ve realised recently is that one of my writing goals is to write something I think is good. However, it’s likely that this is impossible. Writers often complain that their writing is crap – that it is painful for them to read – great writers like Kafka and George Orwell included. Therefore it would seem that, as a writer, you can never consider your own work to be good.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t strive for that, though. After all, if everything you wrote came out perfect straight away, what would be the point? It’d be boring. If you liked what you wrote and thought it was good, would there be a point in writing anything else?

One of the reasons I write is because I know I’m crap at it and want to get better. The main reason I don’t write is because I know I’m crap at it and I worry I’ll never get better, which of course is true if I don’t try, but that’s a topic for another post. My point is, I, like all writers, want to be a good writer, whatever that means. The thing is, what that means is different for everyone. All you can do is aim to please yourself – to write whatever you think is good. Chances are you’ll never accomplish that goal but you will please someone else while you’re trying. After all, lots of people like Dan Brown.

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2 thoughts on “What is ‘Good Writing’?

  1. Self-criticism is what makes good writing. It might sound depressing to say that we will never reach that “perfect” style, but that’s what makes writing an enjoyable experience, I suppose.

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