So You Want to Become a Better Writer?

Part 5 | Really Smart, Can’t Write

In my first post in the series, I mentioned auditing the Coursera program, Good with Words: Writing and Editing Professional Certificate. I’m starting with Course 1, Writing and Editing: Word Choice and Word Order.

This post covers parts of Week 1: The Words Under the Words.

Making you more persuasive.

Professor Barry teaches how the words we choose can change the decisions people make. He helps us identify the ways in which writing can be a “map to a decision”.

In the opening lecture, Professor Barry asks us to imagine two people. The first is you, as you currently are. The second is you, but with a slight difference: you’ve become really good with words. Think of the impact this could have on your career, even your life.

The Coursera certificate is based on a course and workshop Professor Barry has taught at the University of Michigan Law School, the University of Chicago Law School, and at several other law firms, agencies, and organizations. As Professor Barry notes, “It’s actually hard for me to think of a place or profession where it wouldn’t help to be good with words.”

Really smart, can’t write.

Professor Barry often hears colleagues lament, “She’s really smart, but she can’t write.” But never once has he heard someone say, “She can write, but she’s not very smart.” There’s an assumption you have some kind of intelligence if you can write well. It shows you can communicate complex material to another person. That’s a smart thing, and a skill we want to develop.

I’ll be back with more from week one next week. Because if anyone can turn a four week course into three months, it’s me. That being said, I hope you’ll audit the course for free and complete it at your own pace.

Originally published at




Twitter: @peteweishaupt Website:

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Writing is Harder than I Thought


How to Think of Your Writing Career as a Business

Writer’s Overwhelm

“Alternate Facts”

How to Speed Up Your Blogging Output

Memoirs: A Legacy For All


Mood board in blues showing a picture of a typewriter and pen, sticky notes, a manuscript and water

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Pete Weishaupt

Pete Weishaupt

Twitter: @peteweishaupt Website:

More from Medium

I became a millionaire... but at what cost?

A New Solution to Combat Burnout: Holistic Health Coaching for Professionals

Multimodality: A reflection of Storytelling through Instagram Stories

Self-development topics with Reiko Moss