What makes for an exceptional writer?


Recently I was asked about the skill set required for writing and what makes for an exceptional writer. In the engrossing discussion that ensued a distinction was made between “writers” and “wordsmiths.”  For the purposes of dissecting this subject matter, the distinction could best be characterized as the line between writing for oneself as a personal pursuit and reflection and wordsmithing for/with someone else for a pay cheque.


Here are the key questions and answers from that exchange….


Q: What are the primary skills needed to be an excellent writer?

A:  To be an excellent writer, one needs:

  • a healthy mix of creativity and perceptiveness to capture and record the truths of our world in words
  • a masterful command of words:  possessing a good vocabulary and the sense to use the right word for the right reasons
  • the perseverance to revise and rewrite works until they are as they should be


Q:  What are the skills needed to be an excellent wordsmith (def’n: one who creates or re-drafts materials for commercial purposes)?

A: To be an excellent wordsmith, one needs:

  • a superior ability to frame ideas and issues in powerful and precise words
  • the nerve of a hard-nosed editor, who will focus on the appropriate style, proper grammar, use of language and words, and the necessary word counts
  • to be part- collaborator, part-facilitator to work with others and accommodate, reason and synthesize all input – and still produce a meaningful, effective piece


As both writers and wordsmiths at our firm, we find this type of discussion most intriguing for it cuts to the very core of what we do. It is also the essence of what is describes in our tag line, when we say we are “providing the write stuff.”



Chris George, providing reliable PR counsel and effective advocacy. Need a go-to writer and experienced communicator? Call 613-983-0801 @ CG&A COMMUNICATIONS.



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