Monday, October 21, 2013

Write Your Passions

This is the start of a series about the rules of good writing. In the weeks ahead, we'll discuss these rules, one general rule at a time.

The First Basic Principle: 

Writing is hard work. That much we already know, yes?  The rules can sometimes overwhelm us as we sit down to write. Happily, according to E. Shelley Reid, who wrote the essay "Ten Ways To Think About Writing,"  these rules can be reduced to basic principles. 

#1  Write what you know, are passionate about, are curious to find out about...

  • Writing what one knows, loves, or wants to know more about covers a lot of territory, doesn't it? Yet, we can do this even if we've been assigned a topic because there are multiple sides to every topic. We begin by choosing the side that most interests us. It's simply a matter of brainstorming to get at the angle from which to write. What's the importance of writing our passions?  When we're interested in a topic, we usually invest more time, more energy, and we care enough to write with that all important quality "voice," also known as tone. This makes for a better experience for the reader, who can tell if the writer is bored or disinterested. If we're bored as we write the paper, we can be sure that the reader will also be bored as s/he reads. 
  • What we think and feel ultimately influences the direction that the paper will take. Through writing, we become aware of our own biases. Routinely, many of us know what we think and feel only after the words land on the page. In good writing, we revise in order to temper those ideas. Our passion is necessary to write an interesting paper. However, passion and reason go hand-in-hand. Ultimately, passion must give way to reason. That's what academic writing is all about. We use both our hearts and our intellect to get at that all important point. 
  • We not only pay attention to our own voice, but also to the voices of opposing viewpoints. So research to discover the broader landscape of the topic under discussion.  When we research, we go looking for naysayers. If we think and feel one way, we purposely look for opinions that oppose our views because this balances out the paper. This is the place where reason leads us to scholarly investigation. Opposing viewpoints help us to be more credible writers by offering more than a one-sided paper. Readers tend to believe writers who offer opposing perspectives.
Thus papers, fueled by both passion and reason, written and revised, using good research, communicate with readers in meaningful ways. 
In the weeks ahead, we'll be adding more principles of good writing to this list, one tip at a time.

*Ten Ways To Think About Writing by E. Shelley Reid can be found at

1 comment:

  1. The T in Tana is for teacher.
    Thanks, Teach!