Skip to content
Dec 28 / King Kaufman

Scott Raab’s simple formula for becoming a good writer

Scott Raab

Scott Raab

You want to be a good writer? OK, Scott Raab, author of “The Whore of Akron,” the ultimate I-hate-LeBron James book, has the formula for you. It’s simple:

“All the work necessary to learn how to write boils down to reading and writing.”

A lot of it.

“This is not subtle or nuanced advice, obviously,” Raab, who’s a writer-at-large for Esquire and a one-time Bleacher Report Guest Columnist, writes in a post on his personal blog. “I stress it here because of how often I talk to people who seem to think there’s a shortcut. I know no shortcuts.”

Yeah. Dang. I said the formula was simple, not easy. If you’ve read earlier entries in our Writers Advice series, you’ve gotten the advice to read a lot and write a lot. Sorry to disappoint you if you’re looking for one of those shortcuts, but here comes another really good writer saying the same thing. Raab writes that the key ingredient to being a good writer is passion:

Anyone, especially in his or her twenties, saying “I have no time to write” because of a job or anything else is full of crap. Writers write. If you can’t find time to write, don’t worry about becoming a writer. You’re not a writer. You’ll never be a writer. Find something else that lights you up.

Same with reading. Anybody who has no time to read isn’t a writer.

Raab also points out that endurance is a talent, because success tends to come slowly. And even if it comes quickly, it can slip away just as quickly if you don’t keep working hard.

So there you have it. Work really hard for a really long time, because you’re just so passionate about the work that you have to do it. That’s the shortcut.

The good news: If you’ve read this far and now you go read Raab’s post, you’ll have put in a productive three minutes!

  • Ken Kraetzer

    All good points. Have heard two similar points:

    1. Read a good newspaper every day
    2. Write something everyday, even if it is a letter.