being a great writer

Many magazine journalists think that their ability to write well is what secures them their next job. But editors at big publishing houses tell a different story. They claim it’s the marriage of good human (soft) skills with technical skills that make them commission one freelancer above another.

Are you paying enough attention to your human skills to become a great writer? Here are five soft skills worth developing.


1.         Good Communication Skills

Whether it’s chatting over a cup of tea, a telephonic conversation or typing an e-mail, communication is an everyday activity. But do you really think about how well you communicate? Effective communication involves clearly expressing yourself and listening attentively. Good communication minimizes misunderstandings and helps both parties understand each to achieve a common goal. Writing an aggressive e-mail in the wee hours to an editor, who turned down an article, is not going to help you in the future.

See more on communicating effectively.

2.         Willingness to learn

Be open-minded and don’t be shy to ask for feedback. See negative feedback as an opportunity to learn, and makes changes if they are needed. Use positive feedback to know what your readers like. Writers who are willing to pay attention to what their readers want, and meet these needs, will sell more articles.

3.         Adaptability

Things don’t always go according to plan. Your ability to adapt determines whether the result is a new plan B that works, or an excuse why plan A couldn’t work.

Read more on learning to adapt in the face of adversity.

4.         Optimism

Smiling when you want to scream is not easy. But, keeping your cool and staying positive when things aren’t going well is an important skill. A hobby like baking or playing an outdoor sport can be a fun, effective way to release tension and stay positive.

See more on how to be optimistic and think positively.

5.         Work ethic

A strong work ethic is expected by editors. No editor wants to receive sloppy work or worry about a deadline being missed. A sound work ethic will go a long way in fostering good, long-term relationships with editors.

Rate your work ethic here or read more on how to develop a good work ethic.


About the Author

Jane Schiever, writerJane Schiever is a registered dietitian studying towards a Masters degree in Human Nutrition. She works as a dietitian at Themba hospital in rural Mpumalanga. Translating scientific research into practical information people can apply, is a challenge she enjoys. She is passionate about good health and promoting a healthy lifestyle. When Jane isn’t reading or writing you’ll find her running, baking, or camping.