be good to your writing
if you're reading this, you've probably already noticed my lack of capitalisation. maybe that made you click away. maybe that made you continue reading. if you do choose the latter, then thank you for giving me a chance.
this is not an academic essay: i'm not going to pull up statistics or surveys with the most detailed variables and try to convince you to trust me based on an inane number of experiments and observations. what i'm going to do instead is try to tell you why the concept of 'good' writing, at least to me, is obsolete, based on personal experiences.
i'm not going to lie- i've held different views for a very long time- and tended to agree with the more popular opinion, that writing on social media platforms such as instagram have led to the gradual downfall of pristine writing. but as i've continued to read and write and hopefully become better at it, i've found one thing that was common across platforms- and that is the amount of love that writers have for their craft. it's the fact that a person with a couple of followers on instagram continues to post excerpts from their notebook, whether it gains traction or not, and the fact that an author published by the new york times has the same passion towards his writing.
and to me, that is important, and it is beautiful. because your writing is important: the messy kind of writing, the poems you scribble down at coffeshops, the late night half-written epiphanies, the no-holds-barred notes app haikus typed on bus rides, the frenzied text messages at 3 a.m., the letters to ex-best friends you will never send, the writing that stews in your inbox, rejected from two publications because it just wasn't a right fit for them at the moment, the angry writing, the sad writing, the euphoric writing. all of it.
and i guess what i'm really trying to say is that your writing does not have to be good to mean something to people. it just has to be.
I’ve written for the vast majority of my life. A few years ago I began seeking ways to get that writing noticed. Eventually I found my way to Wattpad, then here after the Wattpad thing flopped. I’ve checked a lot of sites out, from fanfiction repositories to original posting. One thing I’ve realized. Quality of writing takes a backseat to advertising. And that’s sad to say, but from my experience I believe it to be true. Wattpad is basically the YouTube of aspiring authors. The flashy, the loud, and the conformist succeed—conformist meaning those who write clones of what’s already popular to share in the success. There are so many “good girl meets bad boy” stories on Wattpad that you’d be hard-pressed to find an end to the list. It’s such a simple concept that the avid reception it garnered was a bit baffling to me. I have a taste for the bizarre, the surreal, the complex. The bad boy/good girl dynamic is fine I suppose, but the reader base of Wattpad gives tens of millions of reads to simple stories with common themes. Some of these stories (I’ve heard) are rife with misspellings, flat characters, cookie-cutter or unrealistic dialogue...the bullet points go on. I knew one dude who wrote on Wattpad who was actually amazing at what he did, yet what I read of his original, well-written and pulse-pounding story only raked in a paltry sum of reads. The reception of his work paled in comparison to the reception of eerily hive-minded sameness. Why is that, I wonder. Wattpad is one of the most popular writing sites in existence, boasting a hefty ninety million users. Those users spend over fifteen billion minutes each month trafficking the site. Most of said minutes are invested into what’s already popular. Not many bother to search out the hidden gems.
To answer your question though, what makes a good writer is simply perseverance. Yes, social media has shortened the general attention span. And there’s a lot of people who find comfort in sameness, so they’re drawn to it. If your work does not fit into the desired categories of the cultural appetite, you’re usually ignored in favor of something already popular that does. You’ve likely heard the saying “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. Well, Wattpad exemplifies that in a way. What’s popular commonly gains more and more traction, while those gone unnoticed find themselves wondering why they invested the time it took to write their story in the first place. The ‘good writers’, I’d say, are the ones who don’t give up despite this phenomenon, who stick to their guns amidst perpetual rejection, who write for the love of it, who are content to write for free, who always look for ways to improve, who aren’t afraid to admit taking heavy inspiration from their predecessors, who aren’t afraid to write cringe for years until their young system is purged of it. Heck, I’m still not purged of my cringe. Possibly, by this time next year, I’ll be mentally reeling from the lackluster content I’m creating now. But that shows effort and growth. That shows perseverance. One who dares to write against the grain despite having every odd stacked against them, one who has a story to be told and who will (metaphorically) explode if they don’t tell it—that’s a good writer. Good writers aren’t sellouts or people-pleasers, and they don’t have to be overly loud and flashy because their work stands on its own. Good writers are those who refuse to dumb themselves down for the sake of cultural appeasement, who refuse to compromise in the face of adversity. And chances are, if you’re reading this, it means you’ve persevered. You’re here, after all, Good Writers.
I am seven, sitting cross-legged on the kitchen floor,
gripping a black crayon hard enough that my knuckles turn white,
air escaping too-small lungs in desperate, ragged, gasps.
There are lines here, on this white page,
but they’re not enough,
just scattered fragments of a child’s mind,
desperately trying to form some semblance of sanity.
Tears fall across waxen lines and I’m shaking,
watching my crayon as it clatters to the floor.
Papa brushes a tear from my cheek.
We watch in silence
as its weight makes the paper buckle.
“Look,” he whispers, running gentle fingertips over waxen streaks.
I cry harder. It’s hideous, isn’t it? This mess of lines?
He only smiles, shaking his head.
“You did it, darling girl.
You told your story.
And that’s enough.”
You define good writing as the substance of textbooks and novels,
pretty words on high shelves that the common man cannot reach,
as if social media has somehow corrupted the written word.
And I suppose it is unsophisticated here, among flashing screens and jumbled text.
I’m sorry that the lack of periods
at the end of my sentences
determines the worth of my craft.
I’m sorry that this has been done before.
But the words on this page are my own.
So while you define who is good enough
to play this game of ink and agony
I will be sitting here
with a black crayon and ugly words
telling my story.
A good writer doesn’t simply write
A good writer doesn’t simply write.
Good writers dream from the back closets of their brains to illustrate with words that will sit behind the eyes of each person who reads their writing.
Good writers sing through their writing and turn flat words to words swelling with beauty and life.
Deep as a half filled glass
The term good writer is so vauge as to be impossible to define. If grammer is vital, then was Shakespere an embarassingly bad writer? If puncuation is key, why is it so easily disregarded for the sake of style? If vocabulary is important, why do paragraphs stuffed with large words and obsure phrases bore us to tears?
A bad writer is easily found. The only persistent mark of a good writer is sheer grit.
A Great Writer
1 Is creative and original
2 Can write with in a variety of styles
3 Can include different useful literary devices
4 Can write with a moral and a meaning.
5 Can switch up their sentence structure if needed
6 Can spice up their writing with vivid descriptive pictures
7 Can avoid plot holes
8 Has good mechanics (grammar)
9 Is good at writing emotional parts of a story and making the reader feel the same way as the emotional character
10 Can adapt to a different target audience
11 Can make a good story line that is fascinating and original
12 Makes lovable and relatable characters
13 Has a cool name like “arctic” =) JK
Yes different social platforms have put a stunt on good writing and the world tends to ” put untalented things on a higher platform and leave true talent in the dust” - Caleb Pinnow (paraphrased). However I do not think social platforms will ever completely destroy good writing. It will always remain for as long as earth.
Good writing has worth.
What does it mean to be a good writer?
Simple. It means you write things that have worth. Worth. A worth of some sort. But who can properly define what “worth” means. It isn’t objective, its subjective. To someone, a piece of writing can be absolute rubbish, without any worth, but to another, a work of art. There’s no fence to bind this.
I believe it is important to see both sides of a story, so I’ll be arguing both sides and let you decide what you want to decide about this topic. You judge, I’ll just lay out the facts on the matter. But beware of confirmation bias-- agreeing with something wholeheartedly because it already matches your believes, but rejecting or “not liking” something you don’t personally “like” or agree with. Let’s not do that, let’s not take sides for a while, and look logically into this.
So I want to put it out there, that good writing does matter. But what does good writing mean again? Its subjective, and I say, to each person his/her view.
You listed out the various social media platforms out there- Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Snapchat, Tiktok etc. I personally am not a fan of social media, but let’s put my opinion aside for now. There’s always many sides to one entity, so I’ll be stating some arguments to say that, no, it hasn’t turned us into mindless zombies--or if you want me to be more precise, not all. Some. I know this personally.
During one literature lesson, we were just being introduced to poetry, and we just reading a few poems provided by the teacher for us. Turns out, one of the poems was found on Instagram. It’s called “Instapoetry”. Now let’s go back, is it worth? Yes. The writer poured out her heart in that short poem, and shared with so many others, impacted so many others. When I found out, I was thinking about Prose, this website, and was like, “Hey! That’s so similar!” Even better, dute to the many functions of Instagram, I learnt that writers were also able to design their posts, which they want to write the poem in. That meant that people could accompany related pictures/ drawings to that drawing to place even more emphasis/allow greater impact on the reader due to visuals.
Social media allows people to connect and provides budding writers, or just writers to have an audience, similarly to this website. Someone to read their works. Maybe you’re thinking, “But that is such a small few! Plus, I’ve never heard of it...” That’s the thing, we can’t condemn an entire thing because some sides of it can be quite deterring and bothering.
YouTube, is filled with music videos, these artists also write music--Lyrics are hold a different meaning each and it’s accompanied by sound, so it fascinates not just one sense, but two senses. Some of our own Prosers to spoken word on YouTube. “Writing” takes a different form there, people perform spoken word poetry, and it is a platform for writers to learn from others, professionals in fact. I myself have spent time on YouTube watching spoken word poets reciting their poems, and have been inspired and awed by their performances.
Additionally, social media provides this one thing, that is so important to all writers. Ideas. Ideas to write about. Or things that can trigger possible ideas to write about. Ideas spark creativity, allows room for creativity.
I know that you probably wasn’t thinking about this, and were more referring to the more common sight of social media--Tiktok dances, stupid dumb videos on YouTube, Narcasistic selfies by influences plastered on every page of social media. Let’s look more into that then. But I want to say, don’t throw out the baby with the bath water. Not everything of social media is toxic or just “useless” and mindless. I thought that too, so I sympathise.
This topic is also something I’ve been thinking especially into though. I have lost so many friends to social media. You actually described them perfectly, “mindless, unsophisticated zombies who no longer care for grammar, punctuation, vocabulary, or creativity”. If I’m going to honest, I wanted to argue that Social Media is in fact brainwashing people into the above, but I decided I shouldn’t.
You probably know enough, don’t you? That’s why you wrote this prompt. You’ve seen it, and probably are seeing it, even more in fact. You know Social Media HAS in fact damaged so many lives. I have, I know I have. Those mindless, unsophisticated zombies. I see them so damn often. I walk down the hallways of school, and man, am I terrified that you’ll become one of them. But are we thinking too highly of ourselves? Who gives us a right to think them “unsophisticated”? Who are we?
So I’ll just say, don’t be like them. You are aware of what could happen to you, but don’t completely cast out the idea of social media, dark and freaky as it is. Don’t let the people you love become like them. That I’ve learnt.
Always treasure good writing, and write things that have worth. And then, share it. Social Media is a tool, its not evil in itself. So why not use it impact others, since an audience has already been given to you? Share it, let your readers empathise with you, let them relate to it, who knows what kind of impact you’ll give them?
You really shouldn’t underestimate the power of words that have worth.
Traversing the Universe
we have grown
amoungst the common
or the old.
that once before did not exist.
writing is not
with a definition
but rather with
complex connection of
letters and words
(that maybe don't make sense).
but isn't that the point?
not just of writing,
but of life?
to create meaning out of the meaningless?
to make sense of the insensible.
look at science.
Galileo labled as a fool by the church
because his ideas were "different".
who's to say that thinking
beyond the earth
will not lead to the discovery of something
like the complexity of the universe?
that is what writing is all about
exploring the universe through verse.
because to write best
is to think
outside the box of the earth
by trying to understand the endless
contents within it.
is the statement of change
is a statement of change.
Nobels in the Attic
Of Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck wrote, “He never sent anyone running for the dictionary,” yet Hemingway won his Nobel eight years before Steinbeck. So, style doesn’t matter; diction doesn’t matter; even a Nobel doesn’t matter--until you win one.
To read someone else’s writing is to crawl into his or her brain, and it’s a brain that will last forever, whether digitally, on a postcard, or--from a 13-year-old, doomed German girl’s attic annex in Amsterdam--on the dusty floor amid the overlooked debris of a hurried seizure and forced exit. The posthumous irony, besides that this book which said it all about oppression generally, the Nazis specifically, and adolescence existentially, is that the abduction scene was secured without noticing the girl’s simple diary--by those who were living their legacy of burning books. Her book rose out of the ashes.
They Saved Hitler’s Brain was a 1968 science fiction film, as bad as it sounds. But actually, they saved Anne Frank’s brain, her neurostylings and thoughts, written for no one but herself. A brain is a very private and isolated thing, so when it is shared for those to come, it isn’t the ghosts who haunt the living, but the living who haunt the ghosts by the simple turning of a first page.
Hemingway’s published works include seven novels, six short-story collections, and two nonfiction works. He won the Nobel Preize “for his mastery of the art of narrative, most recently demonstrated in The Old Man and the Sea, and for the influence that he has exerted on contemporary style.”
Steinbeck’s published works include 16 novels, six non-fiction books, and two collections of short stories. He won his Nobel prize “for his realistic and imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour and keen social perception.” In his acceptance speech, he fretted, “We have usurped many of the powers we once ascribed to God; Fearful and unprepared, we have assumed lordship over the life or death of the whole world—of all living things. The danger and the glory and the choice rest finally in man.”
Frank’s diary was only a first draft, written in cursive. It was private, personal, unassuming, and heartfelt. It was written for her and not her oppressors, who had--for a few years--usurped many of the powers ascribed to God and assumed lordship over life and death. It was meant to go down easily and not create an obstruction in the borborygmi of history. As such, it stands as an impaction for the biliousness of oppressors.
Whether writing a first draft in cursive or a final draft constrained by the commercial sins of a publisher, if becoming a good writer is the goal, write.
Whether writing about wrathful grapes or bullfights, if becoming a great writer is the goal, open the brain and let future history crawl in so that the sensibilities of what is being said for the generations to come can alter the timeline when needed. Often, it is an emergency.