What makes a good writer?

Whether it's business writing, journalism, criticism, children's books, blogging, advertising copy, fiction or non-fiction, good writing seems effortless. It's easy to read and understand. It presents complex ideas in clear, straightforward tones.

In my three decades of writing and editing work, I've done all of the above--and more. I've written millions of published words. Each word I've written has taught me something. In all of them, I've aspired to create good writing.

The chief goal of good writing is to communicate. If it succeeds, it informs and enriches the reader's mind. It can enlighten, inspire, amuse, provoke and move the reader. Good writing brings the unknown into sharp focus, and embellishes the well-known with authority and clarity. It takes thought, instinct, wisdom, training and the ability to absorb, digest and express information.

We've all struggled with bad writing. We encounter it daily--in assembly instructions, in technical manuals, and in magazines, newspapers, blogs and documents. . . We struggle through its clumsy sentences. We read and re-read its lines, in the hope of making sense of its words.

Bad writing makes us feel stupid. It frustrates, obfuscates, and leaves us reeling in its reckless wake. We want to learn--and to learn, we must be able to understand.

Good writing rewards us. It gives us knowledge, and it makes us feel good about ourselves. Good writing heightens our senses, lightens our mood, and leaves us eager to know more. Good writing invites us to grow as people.

Clarity and concision, perception and analysis, insight and empathy--these qualities make a good writer.

A good writer's job is never done. Each day brings new challenges, experiences, and offers a chance to think, learn and grow. It gives gifts to the writer and to their readers. Good writing brings out the best in us all.