In the Writing Center, we’re frequently requested “What makes good writing?” or “What makes someone a great author?” Instructors question whether anybody can definitely be trained to create and why their students don’t understand how to write right now. To start to understand makes writing, and authors, “good,” we have to ask the bigger question “What is writing?”
It’s simple to agree with the phrase writing when we limit it to something similar to “putting pen to paper” or “typing ideas right into a computer.” But when we glance more carefully in the aspects of the action of writing, the meaning involves existence. The next sentences might prompt your opinions about how exactly writing happens for the students as well as for you.
Writing is really a response.
We write because we’re reacting to a person or something like that. While writing can seem to be as an isolating, individual act—just your computer or pad of paper—it can be a social act, a means by which we respond to folks and world around us. Writing occur in specific, frequently prescribed contexts. We’re not just writing—we will always be conntacting a crowd(s) for many particular purpose. Whenever we write, we all do so because we would like, need, and have been needed to produce a fixed space for somebody to get and respond to our ideas. Understanding this social or rhetorical context—who our readers might be, why they would like to read our ideas, where and when they’ll be studying, the way they might view us as writers—governs a few of the choices we make. The writing context requires authors to possess a feeling of the reader’s expectations as well as an understanding of conventions for the written piece.
The context from the piece further determines the right tone, degree of vocabulary, kind and site of evidence, genre, or even punctuation.
Writing is straight line.
To be able to communicate effectively, we have to order our words and concepts around the page with techniques which make sense to some readers. We name this requirement in a variety of ways: “grammar,” “logic,” or “flow.” Basically we would really agree that organization is essential, the entire process of arranging ideas is way from simple and isn’t always acknowledged as “writing.” We think that if an individual has ideas, wearing them the page is a straightforward few recording them, while in fact the operation is usually more difficult. As we’ve all experienced, our ideas don’t always arise inside a straight line form. We could have a scattering of related ideas, a hunch that something feels true, as well as other sense that the idea is “right” before we’ve labored the details. It’s frequently through the action of writing that people start to produce the logical relationships that get the idea into something which another person may receive and possibly like. The entire process of putting ideas into words and organizing them for any readers allows us to to determine, create, and explore new connections. So besides a author have to “have” ideas, however the author also offers to insert them in straight line form, to “write” them for any readers, to ensure that individuals suggestions to be significant. Consequently, if we are writing, we frequently attempt to immediately fit our choices into straight line structures (which might suit our habits of mind).
Writing is recursive.
Once we write, we constantly rewrite. We sometimes do that subconsciously, once we juggle words, then choose, delete, and select again. We sometimes do that rewriting very consciously and conscientiously once we reread a paragraph or page for clearness, coherence, or just to determine what we’ve just stated and choose whether we love to it. Getting read, we rewrite exactly the same phrases or ideas to create a closer match to the intentions in order to refine our breakthroughs through language. The entire process of writing after which reviewing, altering, and rewriting is really a natural and important a part of shaping expression to have an anticipated audience. So when we’re attempting to put our words and concepts right into a logical line, we’re also circling round and back and also over again.
Writing is both subject and object.
We value writing since it reveals the private choices a author makes and therefore reveals something of her habits of mind, her capability to connect and shape ideas, and her capability to transform or change us as readers. We take writing as proof of a topic or subjective position. Particularly in an instructional atmosphere, we read written language as individual expression (whether multiple voices have informed the main one voice we privilege around the page), like a volley in one individual mind to a different. That stated, writing also can serve as an item for all of us, a “piece” or perhaps a “paper” whose shape, size, and performance are based on genre and conventions. Basically we don’t consider writing as technology, it’s also it enables us to get rid of a person’s ideas in the confines of her mind and connect individuals ideas in another place, a location where they’ll be evaluated based on standards, fairly. Here’s where our feeling of what counts as “good” writing develops. We’ve produced objective (although highly contextualized) ideals for writing which include measures of appropriate voice, vocabulary, evidence, and arrangement. So while writing is extremely personal, or subjective, it makes a goal space, a location in addition to the individual, so we measure it against objective standards produced from the context. It makes space for both the person (the topic) and also the idea (the item) to exist together to ensure that we are able to both judge the merits of the baby voicing the concept and deal with the concept around the page.
Writing is making decisions.
It might appear apparent, but to get something around the page, a author chooses the language, an order from the words within the sentence, the grouping of sentences into sentences, and also the order from the sentences inside a piece. While there’s an ordinariness about this—we make choices or decisions almost subconsciously about a lot of things all day long long—with writing, as most of us have experienced, such decision-making could be a complex process, filled with discovery, despair, determination, and deadlines. Selection about words and concepts could be a untidy, fascinating, perplexing experience that frequently leads to something mysterious, something the author might not be sure “works” until she’s auditioned it for any real readers.
Writing is really a process.
Contending using the decision-making, linearity, social context, subjectivity, and objectivity that constitute writing is really a procedure that happens with time and thru language. When producing an article to have an audience, experienced authors use systems they’ve developed. Each author comes with an idiosyncratic mixture of thinking, planning, drafting, and revising that, for him, means “writing” something. Regardless of how a person describes his process (e.g. “First I consider my idea then dump ideas to the computer,” or “I make an overview then exercise subject sentences”), each individual (usually subconsciously) negotiates the number of choices needed in the individual context and fosters a draft that starts to capture a representation of his ideas. For most of us, this settlement includes learning from mistakes (this word or that?), false starts (starting with a good example that later proves misleading), contradictions (I can’t say X since it may throw Y into question), sorting (just how much should i say relating to this?), doubt about how exactly the concept is going to be received, and gratification once they think they’ve removed these hurdles effectively. For most of us, this method happens through language. Quite simply, we use words to uncover what, how, and why we feel. Research props up adage “I don’t understand what I believe until I just read what I’ve stated.”
Altogether these components make writing both a fascinating and challenging act—one that’s wealthy, complex, and valuable. What else is writing for you personally? Consider exactly what the definitions discussed here miss and just how you may complete the sentence “Writing is much like…” Out of your experience like a author, what else about writing appears essential? How’s that linked to that which you value about the entire process of writing and also the final pieces that you simply produce?
To learn more about student writing or to talk to someone regarding your writing assignments, contact Kimberly Abels email@example.com in the Writing Center.
The work is licensed within Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License .
You might reproduce it for non-commercial use if you are using the whole handout (simply click print) and attribute the origin: The Writing Center, College of New York at Chapel Hill