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The Critical Connection Between Emotional Intelligence and Successful Writing

By Linda Grandes

Emotional intelligence. Also known as EQ and distinguished from IQ. In fact, many believe EQ is a larger factor in life and career success than IQ.

And just what is emotional intelligence? According to Howard Gardner of Harvard University, it is the “…level of your ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to work cooperatively with them.” But it also involves the awareness of one’s own emotions, the ability to regulate those emotions, and the strong motivation to succeed.

And these are the keys to success in many professions – sales, marketing, education, HR, any type of team leadership role, and, yes, writing.

EQ and Writing – The Empathy Factor

Writers, no matter what their genre, have audiences. And if they are to be effective and gain/maintain their audiences, they must have that one factor of emotional intelligence known as empathy. It is the ability to put yourself in someone else’s “shoes” and see the “world” from their perspective. When writers can do this, they are then able to persuade their audiences – they know their needs and wants and can address them.

Consider a fiction writer of murder mysteries or horror stories. He understands his audience and what they want in terms of plot and characters. James Patterson is a master of this, as is Stephen King, and their specific audiences will buy every book they write.

Now consider content writers who must appeal to audiences for sales and marketing purposes. Understanding their audiences and their needs means that they use a style, tone, language, and persuasive strategies that will engage and compel them to follow them, to share what they write with others, and, ultimately, to become customers of businesses they write for.

EQ and Writing – Self-Awareness

Great writers have a strong sense of their own worth but they are not egocentric. While they know they are good at what they do, they also know that they can continue to learn and develop their skills and talents. And most have a plan for doing this. It might be studying writing through coursework, workshops, seminars, etc.; it might be continual reading and writing about topics outside of his/her normal writing venue; or it might just be continued research to become a more informed individual.

Every experience a writer has; everything a writer reads; every relationship a writer develops is seen as growth in self-awareness, and they know it expands their minds.

EQ and Writing – Self-Regulation

Writers can become frustrated, anxious, and even a bit depressed. Authors face rejections (J.K. Rowling faced over 200 for her first book). And student, business, and content writers can face the stress of deadlines and pieces that are just not up to the expectations of others. Writer’s block is a common issue too. Instead of giving into the negative emotions, emotional intelligence allows people to “roll” through these emotions and to find solutions. Some write through them; students may seek help and guidance from writing services such as; still others find release through exercise or meditation.

EQ and Writing – Motivation

Successful writers have staying power because they are motivated to “get it finished.” And, in that motivation, they are willing to put in the time and effort it takes. They find their best working environment, put themselves in it, and find their motivation from within. Of course, there is also some motivation that comes from without – deadlines from clients, editors, etc. – but internal motivation allows for meeting them.


IQ is a measure of intellectual ability, and certainly it is a factor in academic success and in certain professions. And those who do not have high IQ’s often struggle in academic environments. They may use tutors; they may use academic writing services like for essays and papers; and they may graduate from college with average or below GPA’s.

But, a Career Builder survey, reported by TRACON, showed that 71% of surveyed employers values EQ over IQ. Further, 59% would not hire someone with a high IQ but lacking in EQ. And 75% stated that employees with higher EQ’s tend to be promoted.

While these stats do not have direct relevance to writers, they do show that emotional intelligence is becoming more highly valued by society as a whole.

Can EQ Be Learned?

If you have a strong desire to write, then you will want to assess your EQ. Given the descriptions above, you can engage in some introspection, but you might want to ask trusted others or even take some of the multiple online “tests” that will give you some insights too. If you believe you are lacking some factors of emotional intelligence, you may wonder if they can be “learned.”

According to a report by the Harvard Business Review, the answer is yes. While an EQ is pretty firm by adulthood (a factor of both environment and heredity), it is not rigid. According to the report, there are effective coaching programs and those who are willing to be coached and to practice can improve their EQ’s.

So, go be a writer if this is your dream. Work on your EQ. You will know it is solid when you have those readers and/or followers who like what you have to say.

Author’s BIO: Linda is a professional writer and she loves to help students. She has spent the majority of her career in the writing industry, gaining experiences in areas such as editing and writing. Currently, Linda is a blogger at Linda also enjoys reading books and traveling.
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