The skillful writer

Novice writers tend to write things down as they pop into their minds, following associations from moment to moment. This impressionistic style often leads to fragmented writing that is childish, disorganized, and inaccurate. Reading such writing is like listening to a child try to explain something complicated–the writing jumps around, leaves thoughts unclear and undeveloped, wanders into contradictions, mingles information with myths and biases, issues judgments without evidence, and makes assertions without justifications.

Skillful writers have disciplined themselves to get past childish and impressionistic writing. They carry on a dialogue with themselves as they write, working hard to practice the discipline of clear, accurate, and organized writing. They have learned from thoughtful reading and careful writing how minds create understanding–how they monitor and evaluate as they read. To satisfy thoughtful readers, a careful writer must constantly monitor and evaluate what he or she is saying.

The skillful writer holds a distinction between his or her thinking and the thinking of his or her audience, asking always: Does the audience have enough information or background to understand this sentence? The skillful writer is purposive, keeping in mind the communication goal of the writing and adjusting to accomplish that goal. The skillful writer is coherent, asking how what is being written fits with other ideas in the text. The skillful writer is critical, asking whether what is being written is accurate, precise, clear, relevant to the current purpose, logical, and fair.

The skillful writer revises, constantly improving his or her writing by thinking about it. He or she writes a little more then goes back and re-reads, monitoring and evaluating what is being said.

Posted by Michael L Umphrey on 02/28 at 06:06 AM
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