August 8, 2013

Writing is Daunting

Writing is Daunting

When I was a freshmen in college, I enrolled in a writing intensive humanities program. We were assigned a paper (almost) every week. When my drafts were poor, my professor would recommend the writing tutor.

After visits with writing tutor, my papers were only marginally better. Some sentences sounded clearer. The grammar was less funky. But by and large, the quality remained poor.

See, the issue was not the writing (in its narrow sense) but the thought behind the writing. The writing tutor was there to help us with things like grammar and clarity. He was not there to help make my ideas more insightful, but that is just as important (if not more so).

(I don’t want to belittle the art of quality expression. It is hard. Even when I have quality ideas, I often struggle to communicate them well.)

“Writing well” requires that I use quality expression to usher quality thought into the world. Half of the battle happens before I put pen to paper (or keyboard to… WYSIWYG editor?).

Having a quality thought is hard. Expression complex ideas well is also hard. Writing requires both which equals hard-squared. And that is daunting.