Assessing whether you are a good writer is almost impossible. What qualifies as “good” is in one sense largely subjective. When one hears of “excellent” books and “great” writers, not everyone is enthralled by the prospect of discussing The Great Gatsby. Yet, it is a phenomenal work of fiction for numerous reasons. Being a good writer involves many attributes. Not only do you have to form intelligible sentences and have good grammar, but you need the vocabulary to keep a reader’s mind engaged, especially when writing fiction. There is also a craft element to writing. Different kinds of writing require different tones, sentence and paragraph structure, and completely different methods of approaching the work. Therefore a good writer basically is one who works at honing their craft.
However, if you score well on an IQ test, are you automatically going to be a better writer? Whilst it seems a truism to say that you certainly won’t be a bad writer, jumping to the conclusion is not as simple as it seems. There are some factors to consider about IQ and “good” writers.
Writers each have their own set of strong skills and other areas where they may not write so well. Thus, many will pursue the area where they write the best. Whether their writing is considered “great” is largely a matter of reader preference. However, it is obvious that those who don’t read, are likely not to write well. You may have a genre or type of writing that you are considered really good at, but your reading skills are what has helped create those abilities.
This does correlate to a link between IQ and good writing. The theory is that more intelligent people read more and thus have better vocabularies and knowledge of how to use them effectively. This seems to ring true for the moment. It is almost impossible to imagine sitting down to write anything when you have not read any related material in your life. So readers make better writers. Those with high IQs read more, so the conclusion is that they write better. However, you do not need an above average IQ to read a lot.
Another theory is that those with better educations are more skilled at writing. This is true in some senses. The more advanced your education is, the more likely it is that you have confronted some challenging work and have well-developed research skills. The ability to research is something that writers are in need of as not everything you write about will be in your head already. Much of what we read in literature today has a component of research in it. However, knowing how to research is a skill which can be learned even with a more average IQ.
Studies have been quite resounding on the idea that those who come from intelligent families are more intelligent. Whilst they may score higher in IQ tests, this in no way correlates to writing ability. Again, writing skills are mastered. A good writer can engage their audience without having had the privilege of a good education or intelligent family. Take Frank McCourt. His Pulitzer Prize-winning memoir Angela’s Ashes illustrates the poverty he suffered, and the poor background he came from where academic pursuits were not encouraged. However, he wrote what is generally considered a masterpiece.
Whilst having a high IQ may help you to think on a more “big picture” diffuse scale, and solve problems more effectively, there is yet to be concrete evidence that it translates into being a better writer. Writing is a skill and craft that needs to be learned, fostered and mastered. If you can master the skill of writing, and you find your niche, you can be a good writer without a genius IQ.