I can recognize beautiful music but I can’t play, I can recognize great art but I can’t paint, I can recognize eloquent writing but for the life of me, I can’t write. This last one bugs me the most. I see people on this forum with thousands of posts and see one thing in common…they’re, for the most part, eloquent. I’m not uneducated but I’d give almost anything to be able to write something that duplicates the eloquence of the thoughts in my head. So, my question; is this something inate or is good writing an acquired skill?

My favorite quote on this subject comes from Nabokov, IIRC.

“There are no great writers, only great readers.”

As I interpret it, what he is really saying is that to become a great writer, you must read great writers and great books. Reading well-written books teaches you how to write well. Of course, there are other interpretations of this quote, it works on multiple levels (like most great writers, Nabokov knows how to layer ideas thickly and succinctly).

If I write prodigiously, it is only because I have spent many years of practice typing rapidly. If I write eloquently, it is only because I spent so much time reading books. Of course, I also took a few shortcuts, reading books about writing (my favorite is “On Writing Well” by Wm. Zinsser).

I also heard that Nabokov quote mangled by another writer, who said, “there are no great writers, only great re-writers.” Writing is not a linear process, although reading IS a linear process. You must learn to go back and edit your writing. Even in this short message, I went back and edited 4 or 5 sentences until I stated my points clearly. It took hardly any time at all.

First-What was so ineloquent about your post?

Second-I write for a living. With practice, the words will find their way from your head to pen (keyboard or whatever). I believe there are two things a writer must do to be a good writer: read and write. Without the first, you never see the images and without the second no one else does.

[li]Read well-written works[/li][li]Write often[/li][li]Hi Opal![/li][li]Edit, re-edit, and re-re-edit[/li][/list=1]

Sorry, no help on becoming a great writer :slight_smile:


I’m not a good writer at all, however, I just happen to be better than most of my schoolmates (no offense to them).

I think it’s partially both. Like everything, you can have raw writing talent and need to refine it to a powerful weapon, or you can start with a normal block of talent and hone it into a slightly less powerful but equally as good weapon.