Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Learning How to Write.

To this point of my life I was like many other people; just writing enough to get by, but not taking the time to write well. Lately I have become interested in learning how to write in order to communicate my ideas with other people. In order to write well I have to first learn the fundamentals of writing: mechanics, ideas, and audience.

The mechanics of writing are mainly important when they are lacking. When I am reading along and hit something that is jarring to my mind, such as the wrong or a misspelled word, poor grammar, or incorrect punctuation, it takes me out of the moment and forces me to translate what was meant to be said. When I am reading something that is mechanically well written it allows me to sink into the writing and let the ideas flow into my mind.

We all have flashes of insight or ideas that we wish to share with other people: our friends, our family, our teachers and classmates, and even to as many people as possible if we feel our message is important enough. These ideas are why I read and why I write. It helps to send the message to others by organizing the ideas and focusing the writing to just a single idea or to a group of related ideas.

By focusing my writing around a central core, it strengthens the writing and showcases my ideas. When I read something that resonates with me and makes me think of the ideas that the author presented to me for days after I have finished reading the book, I know that the author has succeeded in their attempt to share their ideas with me. But when I read something that just confuses me and at the end of the story I have no clue what the author was saying, then I know the author has failed.

If I don't "get" a particular piece of writing it may not be because it was poorly written, it may be that the author was writing for someone else other than me. The ideas have to be written to fit a specific audience. Who am I writing for? Am I trying to be funny, sarcastic, informative, or persuasive? If I am writing for a group of fellow nerds I can use in-jokes and terminology that they will understand. If I am writing for a group of “tweens” I can use “all the cool lingo” so I can appear to be “hip”. [Ha!] If I am aiming something at a set of customers of mine, I will try to be as specific as possible. The people who buy the metal art are a different group of people than would buy the industrial part fabrication services.

By using the proper mechanics, communicating interesting ideas effectively, and aiming my writing at a specific audience I will have succeeded as a writer. If I can’t communicate the ideas to others, for whatever reason, then the writing really has no point. If I can get all the parts to fit together smoothly I will have an effective piece of writing that will communicate my ideas. This is a process that will require a great deal of work on my part, but I am looking forward to the journey.

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