Is it possible to teach oneself how to write properly? If so, I want to learn how.
The generic advice is that more writing is the only way to produce better writing, but I find that advice to be only partially true. I’ve been doing plenty of writing on here, and I haven’t seen much improvement in my writing skills, just less resentment towards writing in general.
The lack of feedback probably explains everything. With only myself to look over my work, I rarely have a fresh perspective on my writing because I edit directly after I write. Not the best habit, but NaBloPoMo only leaves you with so many options.
When it comes to good writing, I see two general categories to improve in. The first is on a sentence-by sentence scale, which includes grammar errors, but also structurally awkward sentences, including my tendency to write super-long sentences that obviously need to be broken up but I don’t particularly care. Even though everyone has their own standard as to what constitutes awkward and how they word things, sentence problems are relatively simple to fix. Heck, even the SAT has a section on this. If it can be standardized, then it’s easy. Moving on.
The second broad category I see is on general organization. Which ideas should be strung together? Do all the concepts tie in with a central topic? How many ideas need to be presented in order to be complete?
School has turned essay organization into a formulaic and standardized process. Oh, pick a thesis, three points to support the thesis, three pieces of evidence per point, a sentence of analysis each, plug it all into the formula, and you’ll have an essay?
This robotic approach works nicely for purely factual and academic work, where all the content just needs to be laid out in a readable manner. However, can you imagine what a 5-paragraph essay would look like as a blog post? Ew. Not all ideas can be presented in such a structured format, which is where blogging comes in.
One of the first tips I read regarding blogging was to write short paragraphs. This has allowed for my blog posts to essentially be a sequence of somewhat organized brain streams that require no prewriting. It’s a wonder anyone actually understands my brain.
Related to organizing ideas is the ideas themselves. Often times, I feel like the topics I write about aren’t as deep or insightful as other people’s, as if I’m incapable of noticing some important facet of life. This is my fundamental fear– that other people can grasp some sense of reality that I can’t even begin to comprehend.
And here, brings me to my final point on writing. In the end, as long as people can understand you, then you have accomplished your goal. However, the more complex the idea, the better the writing has to be in order for people to understand it along with all the implicit connotations. I hope someday to reach the intellectual level necessary for synthesizing my own multi-layered ideas and then being able to express them.
When starting this blog, one of my goals was to have a place to let out any thoughts in my head. The other was to see if I could release those thoughts in a manner that others could understand clearly. And that’s what I hope to be doing now. Goodnight.