An Ear for Good Writing

Jerry Payne

February 23, 2021

People come to me to take advantage of my ghostwriting services for a wide variety of reasons. Most have great ideas for books but they just don’t know how to go about writing them. Some people can’t seem to organize their thoughts sufficiently to structure a book properly. Some don’t have the self-discipline to be able to see the writing of a book through to its completion. Some simply can’t write.

This last one is a biggie. Ultimately, it doesn’t matter how great your idea for a book is or how organized or committed you are. If you can’t write, the book won’t get done. Some people think they can write, but then find out after trying for a few days that maybe they’ve overestimated their own level of skill.

With writing, I contend that you either have it or you don’t. If you have it, you can develop it further. With a lot of hard work, you can go from being a good writer to being a very good, maybe even great, writer. But you have to have something to start with, a certain level of natural ability. Something of the craft has to be there to begin with.

It was the philosophy of Mr. Reichenfeld, my violin teacher in fourth grade. If you wanted Mr. Reichenfeld to teach you to play an instrument, you had to pass a test. He’d sit you down beside him at a piano and he’d hit a key. You then had to sing that key. If he hit middle C, you had to sing middle C. You could either do it or you couldn’t. And if you couldn’t, he’d apologize but say the violin wasn’t for you, and that was that. His reasoning was simple: if you had no ear for music, how could you properly play it?

I believe it’s the same with writing. There’s a certain natural ability that you simply must possess to be a writer, and nobody can give that ability to you. If you don’t have an “ear” for good writing, you’re not going to be able to create it. Of course, having an ear for it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll excel at it. I passed Mr. Reichenfeld’s test, but I quickly discovered that I wasn’t cut out to be a violinist. My lessons stopped after one year (much to the relief of everyone in the household who’d been subjected to my evening practice sessions). But at least with an ear for it, I had the potential, no matter how unrealized that potential would ever be.

So, if you’re ready to embark on the journey of writing a book, you might want to take an honest inventory of your wordsmithing abilities. Do you have an “ear” for good writing? If so, give it a shot! If not, you might consider delegating. Either way, it’s a good idea to remember that there are trained ghostwriting professionals out there ready to assist.

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