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Can Becoming a Better Writer Make You A Better Person?

Posted By Administration, Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Updated: Tuesday, July 16, 2019

While at EDSymposium19 I attended a seminar entitled “Fat-Free Gracewriting” presented by Judy Straalsund.   It explained the importance of writing in a way that makes it easy for your reader to understand your message.  As a writer we want to be sure we convey our information in a way that makes a connection between us and the reader. 

But have you ever considered how becoming a better writer can make you a better person?  Recently I read an article "Why Writing Will Make You a Better Person" in The Chronicle of Higher Education authored by Bob Fischer, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Texas State University and Nathan Nobis, Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Morehouse College that offers a different argument.  Their thesis is that writing is an ethical activity and how we treat others is an ethical concern.  As writers it matters how we view and treat our readers.  Although the article was written for graduate students and faculty members, the ethical norms cited can benefit all writers.

Norms that should motivate good writing include trying to do good things and avoid causing bad ones; respect your readers as valuable and rational beings; and follow the Golden Rule.  As a writer remember how you like to be treated as a reader.  Apply the traits you most value to your writing.  The professors stated there are moral considerations that are relevant to how you write what you write.  If you want to do more to be better understood, include these considerations in your writing.  As much as possible, use ordinary words.  Don’t ask rhetorical questions.  And finally – revise your document as often as you think you should.   And then, if necessary, revise some more.

As the professors stated, it’s hard to become a good writer.  But then, it’s hard to become a good person.  Can becoming a better writer make you a better person?  Share your thoughts in the comment box below.



Marsha Witherspoon, CDFA serves as SDA National Treasurer for the 2019-2020 term.

She is a Member-at-Large from Columbus, Ohio.

Tags:  Better Person  Better Writer  SDA 

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Comments on this post...

Brooke Simcik, CDFA says...
Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2019
I really like this post Marsha. I am certainly going to read "Why Writing Will Make You a Better Person". Thank you for sharing.
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Penny Nelson, CDFA says...
Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2019
This is some great food for thought Marsha. I'm intrigued to read the article you reference.
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Anne McNeely, CDFA says...
Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Marsha, these are some good points. I come across a lot of “passionate” individuals at my firm and they write in the heat of the moment. What I took away from the EDS19 “Fat-Free Gracewriting” is that less is more. (Something I struggle with in my own writing.) That said, heat of the moment writing often times comes off as bully’ish and isn’t necessarily the feeling you want to come across in correspondence, regardless of who it’s written to. Thank you for sharing the article. I think it’s worth checking out!
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Sarah Wallace, FSDA, LEED Green Associate says...
Posted Tuesday, July 16, 2019
As a Creative Writing Major i couldn't agree more with the importance of taking the reader into consideration when writing. I do believe that writing is a great way to learn more about yourself and even gave a presentation once titled "Journal Writing = Free Therapy" Journal therapy is a type of writing therapy that focuses on the writer’s internal experiences, thoughts and feelings. Journal therapy uses reflective writing so that the writer can receive mental and emotional clarity, validate experiences and come to a deeper understanding of him or herself. Like other forms of therapy, journal therapy can be used to heal a writer’s emotional or physical problems or work through a trauma, such as illness, addiction, relationship problems etc.
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Gloria Jackson, CDFA, LEED Green Associate says...
Posted Monday, July 22, 2019
I've always said that your words are indicative of who you are as a person. Sometimes however, what you don't say in writing can become misinterpreted and result in the opposite desired results. Writing a letter (whether you send it or not) will always allow you to express yourself completely. Reading and re-reading what you've written helps to solidify your thoughts and develop better communication skills. This practice will also allow you to communicate with fewer words, thereby respecting the intended reader's time. Great article. Thanks for sharing this information.
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