Traits Every Good Writer Should Have

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very’; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

Mark Twain

Freelance writing is one of the various things I do to make a living. In the process, I hit some of those common stumbling blocks that many other writers might have hit already. Some of the lessons I learned also apply to the other forms of work that I do, but I find that those writing skills–which were brought to the table in nearly every other job–were most impacted by just a few subtle shifts in my character. I believe that these very same shifts will make all the difference for you too, no matter what your career is.


I love children. It’s funny because when I was a kid myself I never thought that I would. Truth be told, they have been some of my greatest teachers. Not only that, but they are so purely smart, creative and talented. If I can learn from children then I have absolutely no shame in telling others that I teach, even if it means teaching someone older than me. The importance of teachability was instilled in me all my life and I finally came to see why it mattered so much. I hold it so high that I decided not to work with someone who got offended by my use of the term “teach” when I was explaining simple ways to use social media. The universal truth is that we are always learning. If someone is resistant in the slightest bit to being taught…there will be no atmosphere of success for either one of us.


I shared some tips about what to do when freelance work slows down in hopes that I could help others like me stay on the horse and not get discouraged by a waning stream of income. Many of us have been there. I have too. This is why flexibility is so important for writers especially.

Working from home can be both a blessing and a slight burden. While WAH-ers get to be their own boss, they also have to, well, be their own boss. This means picking oneself up from the bootstraps, getting work done on a schedule (as long as he or she wants to get paid), knowing how to adjust when clients request revisions, and so on. With a good habit of flexibility, I anticipate that we all will find our own writing flow, making it more like a dance rather than a day job. (Click to tweet that!)

Networking Skills

ABM = Always Be Marketing

This is one of those skills that stands the course of time. I am living proof of someone who has had the blessed privilege of finding work just when I needed it simply because I tapped into the ABM principle. With the prevalence and accessibility of social media, networking has actually become more of a hobby and passion for some. Honestly, networking should be fun. Just know that up front, those of you who may have already started to break a nervous sweat.

I have read several accounts of writers who land gig after gig after gig after…you get the idea. They, too, successfully implemented the ABM principle. Also, keep in mind that work and new clients can come in unexpected shapes and sizes. No, not everyone will be an ideal client for you to work with just because you meet him/her/them. However, the person in the checkout line (real life story, here) could mean the next good connection and paying opportunity, not to mention a good referral. You can wipe your forehead now.

Follow Up-Ness

I leave you all with this final thought of mine: follow the heck up. It has taken me years to find my own strategy for doing this. I still try not to get frustrated when people expect promising results from the “spray and pray” method of networking or job hunting or pitching to the media. If it helps, you might try doing what I do: create a simple reminder within your virtual calendar, containing the term “Follow Up” as the header and the person’s name, title, and contact in the description for a short reference. Outlook is my go-to program hands down for organizing this, but there are many other productivity programs out there available to make sure you add some follow up-ness to your repertoire of good writing traits.

Do you have any other techniques that have worked for you in your own career? Share them in the comments! I would love to know.


5 thoughts on “Traits Every Good Writer Should Have

  1. Two Cyprus teens arrive on Wednesday, the 17th, as our house guests for 18 days.   

    We hope to take them to our Montgomery Village Rotary Club on the 24th for brief introduction.  They will have seen some of our Club members at a Frederick Keys ball game on the 17th.  We plan to take them to the Potomac Rotary Club’s noon meeting on the 24th also.  Four MVRC members have agreed to try to work in brief private office receptions as Vocational Lane offerings for them.  This might be done during the week of July 29th. 


    We will try to work in visits to Butler’s Orchard per invitation from Susan Butler,  to Eric Reid’s Spagn-vola Chocolate factory in the Kentland’s as one of the girls has declared interest in chocolate,  to D.C. museums and government buildings , and to New York City as the other girl’s sole expressed wish.  We will take them to their full group mandated training sessions, also. 

    Edco & Cecilia


    “HISTORY Cyprus was the site of early Phoenician and Greek colonies. For centuries its rule passed through many hands. It fell to the Turks in 1571, and a large Turkish colony settled on the island.


    In World War I, at the outbreak of hostilities with Turkey, Britain annexed the island. It was declared a Crown colony in 1925. The Greek population, which regarded Greece as its mother country, sought self-determination and union (enosis) with Greece. In 1955, a guerrilla war against British rule was launched by the National Organization of Cypriot Combatants (EOKA). In 1958, Greek Cypriot nationalist leader Archbishop Makarios began calling for Cypriot independence rather than union with Greece. During this period, Turkish Cypriots began demanding that the island be partitioned between the Greek and Turkish populations.


    Cyprus became an independent nation on Aug. 16, 1960, after Greek and Turkish Cypriots agreed on a constitution, which excluded both the possibility of partition as well as of union with Greece. Makarios became the country’s first president.


    Fighting between Greek and Turkish Cypriots flared up in the early 1960s, and a UN peacekeeping force was sent to the island in 1965. On July 15, 1974, Archbishop Makarios was overthrown in a military coup led by the Cypriot National Guard. On July 20, Turkey invaded Cyprus, asserting its right to protect the Turkish Cypriot minority. Turkey gained control of 30% of northern Cyprus and displaced some 180,000 Greek Cypriots. A UN-sponsored cease-fire was established on July 22, and Turkish troops were permitted to remain in the north. In Dec. 1974, Makarios again assumed the presidency. The following year, the island was partitioned into Greek and Turkish territories separated by a UN-occupied buffer zone.

    Turkish Cypriots proclaimed a separate state under Rauf Denktash in the northern part of the island on Nov. 15, 1983, naming it the “Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus.” The UN Security Council, in its Resolution 541 of Nov. 18, 1983, declared this action illegal and called for withdrawal. No country except Turkey has recognized this entity.


    In 1988, George Vassiliou, a conservative and critic of UN proposals to reunify Cyprus, became president. The purchase of missiles capable of reaching the Turkish coast evoked threats of retaliation from Turkey in 1997, and Cyprus’s plans to deploy more missiles in Aug. 1999 again raised Turkey’s ire.


    The continued strife between Greek Cypriots and Turkish Cypriots threatened Cyprus’s potential EU membership—it had met all the economic standards—and provided a great incentive to both sides to resolve their differences. UN-sponsored talks between the Greek and Turkish leaders, Kleridas and Denktash, continued intensively in 2002, but without resolution. In Dec. 2002, the EU invited Cyprus to join in 2004, provided the UN plan was accepted by February 2003. Without reunification, only Greek Cyprus was to be welcomed into the EU. But just weeks before the UN deadline, President Kleridas was defeated by right-wing candidate Tassos Papadopoulos, a hard-liner on reunification. The UN deadline passed, and the UN declared that the talks had failed. In April 2004, dual referendums were held, with the Greek side overwhelmingly rejecting the most recent UN reunification plan, and the Turkish side voting in favor. In May, Greek Cyprus alone became a part of the EU.


    In April 2005, Turkish Cyprus elected pro-reunification leader Mehmet Ali Talat as their president, ousting longtime leader Rauf Denktash, who staunchly opposed reunification. In July 2006, the UN sponsored talks between President Papadopolous and Talat.


    In the second round of presidential elections in February 2008, Community Party leader Dimitris Christofias won 53.4% of the vote, defeating right-wing candidate Ioannis Kasoulidis, who took 46.6%. Christofias, who is Cyprus’s first Commnunist president, vowed to work toward reunification and said he would meet with the Turkish Cypriot president, Talat. Papadopoulos was eliminated in the first round of voting.


    On March 21, 2008, President Christofias started talks of reunification with Turkish Cypriot president, Talat, as promised. Talks continued through 2009, though little progress was achieved.


    On April 4, 2008, Ledra Street Crossing was torn down—an important symbolic step towards reunification. The checkpoint divided Greek and Turkish Cypriots in the capital city of Nicosia for decades.


    In presidential elections in North Cyprus in April 2010, Dervis Eroglu, the leader of the pro-independence National Unity Party won 50.4% of the vote, defeating incumbent Mehmet Ali Talat, who is pro-unity.


    On February 17, 2013, the presidential election was held. Leader of the right-wing Democratic Rally party, Nikos Anastasiadis won. Former Minister of Health and Progressive Party of Working People candidate Stavros Malas came in second, setting up a runoff, which was held a week later. Anastasiadis won the runoff, receiving 57.5 percent of the vote.  Anastasiadis took office on February 28, 2013.”

  2. Thanks for sharing once again, I especially liked the ‘teachability’ part….. I really felt the line about not resisting being taught. In this life, as challenging as the journey gets for me, it is a power move to look at the lesson in it all – learn from every step ……
    Thanks again for all your teachings 🙂

  3. Tried to tweet you out but the link didn’t work: just wanted to let you know. I’m reading this after seeing you on bubblews: Good stuff here. So glad I found you.
    In response to your question about traits of a good writer, I was just reading a post today that it helps if you think of who your are writing too.

    Many of these blogs say to define your “target market” but they want you to do it with specific data. Not.

    The article I read says to think of your “customer profile”: such as the ones we’ve written about ourselves. I had an aha moment. Just as it is easy to answer someone’s post because you have an image of them, you need to have an image of your customer when you write in general. I failed at that so many times. So this is something I want to explore more.

    My other faux pau was getting sidetracked by the shiny object syndrome. I just found a product over at Tiffany Dow online that deals with that. I’m not going to put an affiliate link here because that’s not the point for me right now. But in essence, the idea is that if you sign up for anything new you could do a review as a blog post. At least you aren’t just buying products and letting them sit on the hard drive.

    Anyway, nice visit today and will be following you.

    • Hi Sandy (it’s so funny to reply using my own nickname)! You have some legit, packed insights. There’s only so much that one blog article alone could say about the matter. That’s the loveliness about blogging: we can continue to write and dialogue and network our way to a happy reader/customer.

      I’m certainly glad that we are connected too. Bubblews has been doing wonders for my blog since I started writing. The community alone is great. Writers have a big place in my heart.

      I’ll be transferring my domain over to a WordPress, self-hosted site fairly soon and this blog will be a mapped domain ( inspired . sandraharriette . com ) I plan on spending August figuring out how to do that. Be on the lookout! If you sign up for my bi-weekly newsletter, you can get more updates and insights beyond what I write here.

      Let’s keep in touch, Sandy ❤

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