Panel of Experts

Karl Schellscheidt

SAT Prep Expert

  • BSE, Princeton University '90
  • M.A., Secondary Education Seton Hall University '93
  • J.D., University of Pennsylvania Law School '00

Fred Hargadon

Dean of Admission

  • Swarthmore College
  • Stanford University
  • Princeton University

Don Betterton

Financial Aid Expert

  • Director of Financial Aid, Princeton University (1973-2006)
  • Certified College Planner
  • Principal, Betterton College Planning

Seamus Malin

Admission Expert

  • Harvard University
    Dir. of Financial Aid
    Asst. Dean of Admission
    International Office Director

What Makes a Good Writer?


eprep test prep videoWhat makes a good writer?

It’s a question that appears to have some magical, formulaic answer. For better or for worse, it doesn’t. A Princeton graduate and accomplished writer, John McPhee (’53), gave the best answer to this question: “Perseverance.” Of writing, McPhee said, “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.

When will I know when I’ve gotten there (to where my writing is “good”)?

As in any other pursuit (baseball, ballet dancing, painting, playing guitar), there is never a time where the mastery of the skill is “over.” Similarly, the challenge of being a better writer will never cease to present itself to every single one of us. McPhee puts it more eloquently when he says, “Writers are unique. It’s like DNA, a snowflake, or a thumbprint; there are no two writers alike. Therefore a writer can only grow as that writer.” Thus, you should never compare your progress as a writer to anyone else’s, but you should understand that if you don’t write, you’ll never improve at writing.

What makes a good academic writer?

Do you have a sense that to be a successful academic writer, you will have to ramp up your use of five syllable words? Or perhaps you think that the less intelligible your writing, the more likely it will be classified as “intellectual”? It’s okay if you answered yes to either of these questions. We seemed to have created a culture where one is presumed to be more intelligent the less accessible one’s writing is to a reader. Have you ever heard someone remark: “Oh, he’s brilliant. I can’t understand a word he says.” It’s humorous, but guess what? You may have fallen prey to it in your own writing (or, at least, have been tempted to). We all have. But try to remember this pearl of wisdom from New York Times correspondent Chris Hedges: “There’s nothing intellectually humiliating about writing clearly.”

Our education in writing has stressed the complicated over the simple. But good writing is not decoration; it invites a reader to belong to something significant through the clear expression of original ideas. Sometimes we use that decoration to hide the absence of an original idea. Worse yet, we believe that this decoration is equal to if not more important than the idea(s) conveyed. Thus, good academic writing requires the accomplishment of a two-fold task. Chris Hedges (again) said it best with a second simple declaration: “It is not enough to write well; you have to have something to say.”

In sum, it takes practice to improve as a writer, and that practice can at times be difficult and frustrating. But however frustrated and difficult you may find the task of writing, if you are invested in it and write around ideas you care about, your writing will move you to a place of deeper understanding—not just as a writer but as a person of the world. When you write more, you begin to notice more, and when you begin to notice more, your world takes on a whole new depth of meaning. That’s worth something, isn’t it?

Share and Enjoy:
  • Print
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Mixx
  • Google Bookmarks
ambien and alcohol ambien for sleep amoxicillin and alcohol amoxicillin and clavulanate buy cialis online cialis is tadalifil generic levitra generic vardenafil cheap phentermine diet with phentermine about soma abuse of soma buy viagra cheap viagra adipex p adipex and alcohol buy-celebrex celebrex-cost buy vicodin get vicodin ativan and alcohol ativan dosage acetaminophen-and-codeine acetaminophen-with-codeine buy finasteride finasteride administration buy ritalin get ritalin basic information about ultram buy tramadol clonazepam and xanax clonazepam dosages buy dexedrine dexedrine cost hydrocodine apap percocet watson 540 buy percocet get percocet buy fluoxetine fluoxetine and alcohol buy valium diazepam and valium alprazolam xanax ativan xanax buy fexofenadine fexofenadine and alcohol cost of fexofenadine atarax dosage atarax side effects ephedrine-and-caffeine ephedrine-doseage buy methylphenidate online methylphenidate cost addiction to oxycontin buy oxycontin buy winstrol deca winstrol benzphetamine didrex benzphetamine hydrochloride buy kamagra online cheap kamagra buy stanozolol stanozolol cycle acomplia diet buy acomplia online

watch Chasing Mavericks online

Watch movie online for free, Download free movies online online watch Rush Hour 2 online watch Notorious online watch watch Drinking Buddies online watch Empire of the Sun online

sites to see movies online

Watch Movie online - Paradise Pantry watch watch Blue Streak online watch Black Hawk Down (2001) online now watch filipino movies online watch Battle for the Planet of the Apes online

watch V/H/S online

HD Watch movie online for free, Download free movies online watch Titanic online watch The Best Man Holiday online cinema watch Resident Evil: Extinction online watch O Brother, Where Art Thou? online

watch The Family online

watch local movie theatres watch Joy Ride online watch Hours online best quality watch What Dreams May Come online watch Alien online

watch documentary films online

Buy Movie - Paradise Pantry HD watch Raging Bull online watch scary movies online film watch Mirrors online rent online films

watch How I Live Now online

new films coming soon film rent and watch movies online watch The Architect online online best site to watch movies online watch pakistani movies online

watch Imaginaerum online

watch funny online videos how to watch movies online watch The Magnificent Seven online film watch movies online now watch The Company You Keep online

watch Wreck-It Ralph online

film watch online watch watch Episode 50 online watch Salmon Fishing in the Yemen online HD watch cartoon movies online watch The War of the Roses online

watch online english movies

video streaming hosting free watch Mulan online watch Gladiatorul online cinema watch Back to the Future Part III online all you see movies online

watch Alice in Wonderland online

100 free movies online best quality watch Rocky (1976) online watch The Campaign online watch watch Dead Man Down: Gustul razbunarii online watch Hook online