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Writing Out of Your Mind

Whether you follow all the usage rules or blithely let it happen, what can you do to transform simply writing to writing really well—to writing out of your mind?

I'm not going to tell you, in so many words, how to write a good business letter, senior thesis, or even article for a medical journal, although the principles of good writing apply to any kind.

And I don't want to sound like an English teacher (with apologies to Ms. Metzler). What I do want to do is to illustratein more ways than one for you my theory of how to surpass just writing, by writing really well.

You won't find this information in writing classes.

(Something else not found in writing classes)   —>
Not in writing classes

What is good writing?

The purpose of writing, of course, is to convey thoughts, ideas, information, whatever, from one mind to another. However, achieving that purpose—simply conveying your words-does not necessarily make writing good.

What 'makes for' good writing, then?

Rather than arguing the fine points, I will simply state that good writing, in addition to conveying thoughts and all the rest stated above, is compelling. Compelling to the reader, that is, not (or not only) to the writer.

If good writing is compelling, how often in your experience do you feel that your writing-from IM to treatises-has really achieved that?

What derails good writing?

The process of writing is identical to the process of speaking in that words are formed, arising from whatever-it-is that we call thinking, and are then conveyed to the outside world. Also as with speaking, writing has a structure and a flow. Good—compelling—writing is subject to both.

Language has a structure and a flow controlled by separate parts—distinct areas—of the brain. I won't go deeply into those areas (Broca's and Wernicke's is what they are named), but suffice it to say that, like language, writing has a structure and a flow—almost like the particle-and-wave concept of matter in physics—over which those areas of your brain have great or total influence.

Should a stroke damage either one of those areas, either the structure (Wernicke's) or the flow (Broca's) of speech will be impeded.

What finally enables good writing, then?

You could call the structure of writing its grammar and the flow of writing its rhythm. Maybe it's not true any more, but when I was in school, English classes tended to emphasize structure at the expense of fluidity. Perhaps as a result of that you may count yourself among those who despise the word and the concept of "grammar". Even if that is so, something awaits you here.

And although I've never taken a course in creative writing, I would not be shocked to learn that such courses emphasize flow over structure. Good writing contains both-structure and flow—usage of both halves—and it is that combination that enables the writer to commune, compellingly, with his or her reader.
You could think of good writing, then, as writing that arises from both sides of your brain—the structure from the logical left side; the rhythm from the creative right. When you capture them both in your writing, you are writing out of your mind. All of it.