What is the purpose of writing? Have you ever asked yourself that question? We could go into the history of writing, but I’m thinking about the question in more of a philosophical sense. The whole purpose of writing is to communicate in a clear fashion so that others may be able to learn from it.
This is something that we need to take to heart, as writers. It doesn’t matter if you have a brilliant invention, a solution that will bring world peace, or a story that everyone will love. If you can’t communicate your ideas in a clear, concise fashion, you will fail in letting others know about your brilliance. It might even backfire completely and make you look like you have no idea what you’re talking about.
One of the keys to communicating well is to have a solid grasp of the language you are writing in. This isn’t to say that your writing has to be grammatically perfect and completely free of typos! But you should be able to write well enough that other people will understand what you are saying. Unfortunately, this typically means that you need to present your writing to other people so they can let you know what they think.
Now I’ve seen a few cases where a writer thinks that their works are perfect as soon as the pencil hits the page. There’s no reason to edit or get feedback from other people – it’s perfect! And if others have trouble understanding it, then maybe they just aren’t smart enough to get it. And then they wonder why they never get published, or no one is reading their works at all….
No, the best writers are ones who listen to their readers. If a reader comes back and says “I don’t understand this,” then that should be a clue to the writer. Somehow the attempt to communicate has failed. The good writer will take this to heart and thoroughly examine his or her writing. Why didn’t this work? And is there a way to change the wording so it is clearer?
Occasionally, though, this will be intentional. If the narrator is insane or unreliable, that narrator may have a confusing, skewed perspective of reality, and this should come through in the writing. However, this should be used sparingly, and not as the central focus of a longer work, like a novel. Using poor writing is a good way to alienate the readers – if they don’t understand what’s going on, they probably won’t read too much of your story.
A good way to get to understand the language better is to read. A LOT. Read works that have been published. Read it with an analytical eye. Why does the author use the words in this way? What is it about the words that elicits a reaction from you? What can you learn from this writing style that you may be able to imitate or incorporate into your own style?
Most experienced writers say that you should write a little each day. I would add to that that you should read a bit each day, too. Read a variety of authors and genres. Read online works and printed books from a variety of decades. Read on multiple levels, always with a critical, analytical eye and a mind ready to figure out how to use the techniques yourself.
These are things to think about while you keep on writing!