Posted by Kindra On June - 3 - 2019 0 Comment

Guest blog by Edward Moore

Writing is probably the artform humans practice more than any other. Even if not done with artistic intentions, almost every first-world man, woman and child spends some portion of their day writing. Whether it’s typing out an email to a coworker, reviewing knockoff workout equipment on Amazon, or engaging in an argument on social media, most of us are pretty comfortable flinging our ideas into the ether at a statistically average 75 words per minute. It’s a unique quirk of being a writer—we’re not the only ones doing it every day.

spontaneous writing into clear writing

The muses wait for no one, so get writing while the writing’s good!

Most of us have typed out an essay’s worth of words on a whim at one point or another and when that passion can be harnessed for a project, all the better. But raw, unfiltered thoughts don’t always make for the best content.

What separates the guy leaving a 1,500-word Facebook review of his local Denny’s from the pros? How do you turn your mad, incoherent ramblings (or perhaps just slightly unpolished thoughts) into a well-thought-out, legible masterpiece?

 

Step 1: Organize the Ingredients

Have you ever read the Medium article about the misarranged burrito? (Warning: spicy language) The meal in question is, on the molecular level, a burrito. All the right content is there. The beans, the meat, the guac—but putting them together in the wrong way transforms a tasty treat into an insufferable nightmare no one could call “a good burrito.”

Unorganized writing can cause a similar problem, even if the content itself is good. In our case, however, we want our ingredients clearly separated. No bite of your article should distract from its main point; you want your reader to be able to focus on that entire mouthful of sour cream. Or some other metaphor that isn’t horrifying.

When you’re throwing ideas down in a text box on some website, you’ll likely want to jump off on a tangent here and there. Maybe, while you were thinking about it, you decided that an exploration of a side topic was more interesting that what you had originally intended. Maybe you’re a modern-day Herman Melville and think the conversation needs a chapter on the classification of whales before it can continue. Either way, given the opportunity to wrangle our spontaneous urges, we should strive to arrange our ideas in a logical manner, without forcing the reader to keep in mind the sentence we initially interrupted for our diatribe.

 

Step 2: Smooth Out the Edges 

Fortunately, your readers are unlikely to sue you for whiplash no matter how sharply you turn into the next point—but that doesn’t mean they’ll appreciate it. The impassioned and spontaneous writer, slowed by nothing, may jump immediately to any subject that enters their head. But without some advance notice, the reader might find it difficult to follow. It’s a writer’s job to carefully guide the reader and their waning attention span from point to point.

These kinds of rough jumps can result especially from the rearranging you’ve done in Step 1, when you move information around to places it didn’t originally intend to be. See if you can’t relate one idea to the next or frame the upcoming paragraph in some way.

 

Step 3: Call your Shots

We’ve all had a conversation with someone that’s consisted mostly of a huge info dump of unspecified intent. Maybe we’ve been the dumper, maybe the dumpee, but it’s not uncommon to be standing there, trying to process the entire text of a college 101 course as it spews uninhibited from the other guy’s mouth and thinking “is he going to get to the point?”

Introductions and conclusions may have just seemed like hoops to jump through back in school, but out here in cold, cruel life, they serve a purpose: framing what you’re about to say. An introduction may not feel very natural, but after you present the introduction it does wonders to help your reader see the relevance of what you’re trying to say to them rather than just drowning in the sea of data points.

Conclusions do the same thing; they help the reader apply context to everything they’ve just read. Think of the introduction and conclusion as two thumbtacks holding your piece on the wall; they pin everything down, and make sure all the information is being absorbed in the correct context. Framing your writing on either end keeps it firmly in place.

It’s true that some of our best writing is done on the spot. Real passion will translate clearly to your reader when it’s there, no matter what. We just need to be sure that we’re doing our best to be clearly understood, so not only our passion gets across, but our meaning, too. That’s where the difference between a professional and an amateur lies: not in good wordplay or clever turns of phrase or a large vocabulary but in making sure your writing is clearly understood.

Categories: BLOG

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