As a freelance writer and provider of writing services, I get all sorts of writing assignments from all over the world. Before hiring me, prospective clients ask me questions to ascertain my capabilities, which obviously they have the right to. One of the most frequently asked questions is – “Are you a native speaker?”
This I have never been able to understand. Does this imply that only native speakers can write well? If the implication is taken to be true, then shouldn’t all native speakers be good writers? Shouldn’t they all be able to speak and write perfect English?
What actually constitutes a good writer? Putting it very briefly, a good writer is one who –
1. Uses appropriate words in clear and concise sentences.
2. Presents relevant information in a well connected and arranged manner.
3. Avoids digressions (irrelevant details) and deviations (shifts in focus).
4. Uses proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
And above all, to a writer all these points come naturally. The words just flow smoothly and effortlessly. The best definition, I feel, is one given by Ferdinand Brunetière, the nineteenth century French writer and critic – “A good writer is simply one who says all he wants to say, who says only what he means to say, and who says it exactly as he meant to say it”.
Then does one have to be a native speaker?