A writer is more than a novelist.  All of us, at one time or another, will introduce ourselves by the written word, be it a letter, a resume, a report or a homework assignment.  It is our chance to put our best foot forward and start off a new relationship well.

All writers should strive to write simple, clear and direct manner.  Perhaps from the desire to impress rather than communicate, we use bureaucratic prose of stultifying obscurity, pandering to an eclectic selection of weasel words - please, resist the temptation.  However, if you wish to stand out from the crowd, make it easy for your reader to understand what you’re saying.

As a writer, there are some simple rules to do this.  Write in the active voice, if you have a choice between a long word and a short one, use the short one.  Outline your piece before you begin, establish the plot, keep the suspense coming, adopt a consistent point of view, avoid weasel words and ‘saidisms.’  Follow the standard format of the type of writing that you’re doing (if you don’t know what it is, there are dozens of books in the library that will make it clear).

A writer does not try to impress but to communicate their thoughts or ideas.  We are taught over and over again to impress the boss (teacher) with how much we know, how many big words we can use and to puff up the importance of the subject.  This makes for pompous writing, and inevitably, something is lost when things are made pompous.  

For example, “Never enumerate your feathered progeny until the incubation process is thoroughly realized,” just doesn’t have the same punch as “Don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched.”  Do not under any circumstances dumb down your work (logic, idea or argument), but why be deliberately obscure?  Use the shortest sentence structure that will convey the meaning that you intend.

A writer knows the mechanics of writing.  Yes, English is a complex language with many words and is difficult to master.  Yet there are some simple guidelines to writing it clearly and well.  An example is ‘The Elements of Style’ by Strunk and White, a compact (less than one hundred pages) book with simple, straightforward instructions on how to write clearly and well, with pointers on avoiding the most common pitfalls in the English language.

So, remember, when you introduce yourself with your written word, it establishes you as a writer.  Do it as you would for any personal appearance, carefully, with thought as to content and appearance.  Then select your words as you would your clothing, and create the right impression. 

That’s what it takes to be a writer.