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.