Guest Blogger: A Good Writer

Courtesy of Katie:

You will never see the question “What makes a good writer” on any SAT or test of advanced placement exam. There is no formulated response to this question. There's no recipe that one can follow to get 'it right.'

Accomplished writer and 1953 graduate of Princeton, John McPhee answers this question to the best extent that I have ever seen: "Perseverance. You have to stay with it. Great writing doesn't simply happen; it takes time, struggle, and a willingness to accept that sometimes you won't know where you're headed."

Ah, the beauty of not knowing where you’re headed. What a two-edged sword that is. Though it’s a wonderful thing to know that you can go anywhere, and beyond your wildest expectations, it’s also frightening as hell. Especially when you seemingly skew off of the path you believe you should be headed down.

I'm an avid blogger. As long as I can remember, I’ve been coming up with new ideas of things to write about. One day, I sat down, ready to blog, and the unimaginable happened. I couldn’t think of anything to write about. I ran out of ideas. I hit my own form of writer's block. At this point, I did what every right minded person does when they have a question ranging anywhere from “Where to go for great Italian in Philadelphia”, to “What to get my crazy, obsessive Mother-in-Law for her Birthday”… I Googled it. "Idea's for Blogging." I found page after page of ideas; none of which appealed to me. I just can’t write about Politics, Animal Rights, or Life Expectancies of Males VS Females. They just don’t interest me.

Then, I came across an article that featured someone that I had never heard of. They went on to say that they wish they had the problem of having 'no ideas', for they have 'too many' ideas. That, they said, is what makes a good writer. My heart sank. If this guy has too many, then I should have too many. Was I mistaken? Was I just too tired to think of more ideas? Maybe I should give it a few days. After all, the one thing I was sure of was that I wanted to write. I gave it a few days, and no ideas... I was pretty crushed. I was under the assumption that because this 'person' again, whom I've never heard of claimed that a writer has 'too many ideas', and I was struggling to find one, that I wasn't a writer.

I went from blog to article to book for the next few weeks. I sobbed at all of the ideas people had that I could have had…should have had. Maybe I was a writer for a little while. I had done my time, given to society, and now I was done. Since I couldn’t be a writer anymore, I started thinking what else I could do, and dreaded the next passion that would die after my talent exhausted itself.

Weeks passed, and one day…I was in the shower, of all places, and I got an idea. I jumped out, ran to my bedroom and wrote it down. Then, I celebrated. And by celebrated, I mean did the ‘booty dance’ all over my apartment. Jumped on my bed, and then cracked my head on the ceiling. All I could do was laugh. I was all better. I was a writer again.

Truth is, I was never ‘not’ a writer. I was just stuck at a roadblock. An actor is not no longer an actor when he/she is between movies. Writing, just like anything, is not all fun and games. It takes practice, and it will get frustrating, just like anything else. As long as you write, and keep writing about things you enjoy, then this will allow you to go deeper than you ever imagined.

As I said, there is no ‘formula’ for a good writer. The only thing I know for sure, is that a writer is always a writer, even when they’re at a block, or an ‘off time’. The important thing is to realize this, and to stick with it. Don’t give up. It takes a massive amount of dedication and perseverance to be a writer. You have to have a heart of stone, sometimes, to take the rejection, and roadblocks that often come with it.

Remember, you’re a writer. In good times, and in bad; you’re always a writer.

Thank you, Katie!


  1. There is little more frustrating than running out of ideas. The thing is, I have tons of ideas for blogs crowding my head, but I'm just not "inspired" to write about some of them just yet therefore I DO still get stuck for ideas. It's insane.

  2. I think "Perseverance" is defintely the key to it - never lose hope, keep trying, and you never know!