Ohhh…the challenges of writing. Most people dread it. Many of us had poor grade school experiences of English teachers demolishing our work with countless red ink error corrections and question marks all over the papers we stayed up late writing the night before. We dreaded subjects we had to write about and the revisions we had to make—the entire process was like cleaning a messy room. The pain and arduous process of good writing is what makes simple cell phone text messaging and 140-character Twitter posts so much easier.
So why is writing so hard? Well, partly because it’s not as natural as talking. The old adage that says, write like you talk is not quite valid. Good writing is not always like we talk. We don’t talk in complete sentences. We constantly correct ourselves. We utter our thoughts. And if just can’t articulate we what we’re thinking, we can always say, “You know.”
Why Good Writing Is Hard
Good, coherent writing is not like talking. Writing is a process. It’s messy. It’s uncertain. It doesn’t add up like 2+2=4, even though there are grammar and spelling rules. Writing is somewhere between an art and a math equation, and that’s what makes it hard. There are rules that we can apply to make our writing good, but writing requires a sense of style and timing that makes writing interesting.
As a writer, my skills have grown over the years, simply because I write nearly everyday—not just for myself, but for readers. It’s one thing to keep a personal diary or blog in which you can choose not to focus on communicating your thoughts but to use writing to document your experiences and what’s on your mind. When you write for readers, it’s different challenge. You want your writing to be read. You’re trying to communicate information to others in way that makes that information easy to understand.
If you’re a fiction writer (which I‘m not), you’re trying to both entertain your readers and draw them into your fictionalized world. If you’re a serious fiction writer, you know your readers won’t waist their time with a poorly written story.
When a reader reads a book or even an article, he or she is entering into a contract with the writer. The reader is agreeing to give over his/her time to read what the author has to say. The reader expects the author to make to make the time and experience of reading worthwhile. By the same token, the author wants the full attention of the reader.
That’s the challenge of writing is to make topics interesting, comprehensive, accessible, and rewarding for readers.
The process of producing good writing is what I will cover in part 2 of this topic.
(Photo acknowledgement: Dave )