Few can agree on a definition, but everyone feels they know good writing when they see it. We recognize good writing because it works. It plays. It impacts us.
This begs a question: if we don’t know, specifically, what it means to “write well,” how do we know we’re doing it?
Learning to write well means developing the skills to make effective decisions about our writing, decisions that bring our work to life. We want our writing to make manifest the elements we’ve been imagining, developing, and stressing over.
To bring our work to life, we focus on the journey our readers experience through our writing.
When we read, we don’t simply respond to words, we navigate language. We move through syntax and actively engage the relationships between words, phrases, and ideas. We share in a linguistic landscape, an environment the writer built with our cooperation and participation.
As writers, we must take responsibility for the linguistic landscape we create. We need to earn our readers’ trust and craft for them a robust, coherent experience that means something to us and that can mean something to them.
What does it mean to craft an experience?
I’ve learned, after many years as a writer, an editor, and an educator, that three often overlooked aspects of writing combine to develop the coherence necessary for a meaningful experience.
- The Relationships Between Our Perspectives
- The Function of Language.
- Conceptual Integrity
To write well, we must deeply examine all components of writing. These three aspects, however, cross-pollinate to give our writing depth. I’ll address each one in greater detail in future posts.
The Experience of Writing Well
Readers don’t and shouldn’t realize all the connotations and connections in the emotional web we’ve woven. As writers, we’re crafting an experience for our readers that they don’t realize they’re having. We work to organize the elements of our composition in order to craft a journey that allows our reader to arrive at shared meaning.
We want our readers to feel our conscious concern for their experience. If we put our reader’s experience first, we succeed as writers.
Image by Nick Morrison courtesy of Unsplash
HAVE YOU EVER STRUGGLED WITH THE CONCEPT OF WRITING WELL? HAVE YOU STRUGGLED WITH THE URGE TO WRITE FOR SOMEONE ELSE, TO MAKE AN EDITOR OR TEACHER HAPPY? HOW DID YOU DEVELOP A PERSONAL WRITING PRACTICE? SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES WITH US AND HELP US LEARN FROM YOUR WRITER’S JOURNEY.