Why Good Writing Matters: For one thing, reading it is sheer pleasure


Reading the newspaper - Lia Founphoto © 2005 JP Esper­ança | more info (via: Wylio)

This morn­ing, I took the time to fol­low a few Face­book links posted by peo­ple I know. Each took me to a piece of fine writ­ing recently posted in cyber­space. The arti­cles are quite dif­fer­ent from one another, but what they all have in com­mon is the high cal­iber with which they are writ­ten. I’ll pro­vide links to the arti­cles — as well as to two other exam­ples of fine writ­ing I came across recently — at the end of this post.

Some peo­ple are not con­vinced that the qual­ity of their writ­ing — cor­rect­ness of punc­tu­a­tion, accu­racy of spelling, smooth­ness of sen­tence flow, and so on — really mat­ters. “Peo­ple know what I mean!” groused one writer for whom I used to proof­read. “And if they don’t get it, they’re not the kind of read­ers I want read­ing my stuff any­way.” Well! If it had been up to her, I would not have been copy­edit­ing her work at all, but the pub­lisher who printed her pieces in his regional news­pa­per knew it was impor­tant if his pub­li­ca­tion was to look pro­fes­sional and credible.

Which is pre­cisely my point: If you want read­ers (1.) to under­stand your writ­ten mes­sage and (2.) to find you cred­i­ble and pro­fes­sional, you need to be artic­u­late. If you really care about the infor­ma­tion or ideas you are tak­ing time and expend­ing energy to share, you’ll do well to not con­sider your­self above cri­tique. Every­one makes mis­takes in writ­ing, and the hard­est writ­ing to proof­read is one’s own. (That’s why, even as a free­lance proofreader/copy edi­tor, I occa­sion­ally make mis­takes in my own work. My stand­ing pledge is that if you assist me by dis­cov­er­ing and telling me about an error I’ve made on this blog, I’ll reward you with 20 min­utes of free proof­read­ing  — a $10 value.)

Besides rea­sons 1 and 2 above for ensur­ing that your writ­ing is excel­lent, there is the third, to which I’ve already alluded: Strong writ­ing is, purely and sim­ply, a great joy to read — at least for many peo­ple. I find it delight­ful because I can fol­low it so eas­ily; my mind can flow along smoothly with­out hav­ing to stum­ble, back up, rethink a phrase to get the mean­ing, or start down a word-path only to find a dead end and have to go back to the prior junc­ture and reassess: “Oh, that’s what she meant to say!” Though such hitches in thought might only take a frac­tion of a sec­ond and hardly be notice­able, the fact is, they are notice­able, and they make read­ing less pleas­ant. Instead of focus­ing on pon­der­ing the con­tent, I am forced to stop and sort out mat­ters of word flow. It’s annoying.

But not in these five pieces of writ­ing. So, enjoy, friends! And if you’re inter­ested, let me know what you think — either about this post, or about the con­tent of the articles.

Cor­po­rate ‘Edu­ca­tion Reform’: A Moment of National Insan­ity” by Diane Rav­itch on Com​mon​Dreams​.org

Caffiend No More” — blog post by my brother-in-law, Christo­pher Tassava

Response to ‘Hear­ing the Cries: Faith and Crim­i­nal Jus­tice’” by Bishop Lawrence Wohlrabe for the online pub­li­ca­tion, Jour­nal of Lutheran Ethics

The Gospel Revis­ited” by Dieter Zan­der for Dis­ci­ple­ship Jour­nal (reposted — begins with the intrigu­ing words, “I was abducted by an alien gospel…”)

By the Way…: Some Romance Remains” — weekly col­umn by Tom Pan­tera for The FM Extra

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