Some more on Writing

Erratically, I check in on various blogs that I enjoy reading. I have several such blogs I kinda, sorta, tend to monitor. I just can’t seem to find the effort or time required to monitor them on a daily basis. In their own ways, each gives me pause, makes me think, gives me insight on the world around me, or simply provides me with interesting reading.

Today, I decided to check in on The Functional Lunatic and read this post.

To be sure, I don’t think Yorick von Fortinbras will actually quit writing, any more than I am likely to. Perhaps his posts will become more erratic, like mine tend to be: sometimes fast and furious, other times you’d think I’d quit writing on this blog. At any rate, that post got me to pop a reply and as I wrote that reply, it started me thinking.

I’d commented that

I don’t think that’s a bad way to write. I think, instead, it’s merely a way of letting your creativity guide you. When I write, sometimes I sit down wanting to write with nothing in mind, but the urge to write. So, I just put fingers to keyboard (or pen to paper sometimes) and start writing. I have no idea what I’ll write about or where it will go if I have a starting point. This is neither good writing nor bad writing, it’s just writing. What makes it good or bad is how much you clean it up afterwards, if it’s necessary to do so.

Even when I’m writing a story over several days, I don’t always know what’s going to happen next. I know Point A and Point D and maybe some points between, but I have no idea how I’m going to get from Point A to Point D. That’s the job of my creativity. The job of my writing is to make coherent sense of what’s been written and that’s when good writing or bad comes into play.

This got me to wondering, how many people out there that are trying to write confuse, or so it seems to me, creativity and writing? Do you, if you write, consider your writing good only if you think you have something worth sharing? Or do you, like me, see good writing represented by proper spelling, sentence structure, the selection of words for their power, the beautiful flow of the words working together?

creativity (plural creativities)

  1. The quality or ability to create or invent something.

writing (countable and uncountable; plural writings)

Wikipedia has an article on Writing

  1. (uncountable) Graphism of symbols such as letters that express some meaning.
  2. (uncountable) Something written, such as a document, article or book.
  3. (uncountable) The process of representing a language with symbols or letters.
  4. (countable) A work of an author.
  5. (countable) The style of writing of a person.

So, creativity I seem to have down pat: to create or invent something where that “something” can just as easily be a blog post, a dissertation, a philosophical treatise, an amusing short story, a frightening horror tale, a heartfelt poem, or a wonderful song as a new storage medium, a new gun, a new engine, a new OS. How can this be either good or bad? Discard the emotional context – the atom bomb was just something created, just like my short stories. It’s how they’re used/presented that makes them good or bad. And that’s my exact point.

When you initially write something down, you’re creating something. It may not be great writing and may be full of idiosyncratic errors: spelling, grammar, all that stuff I mentioned earlier. But you have created something. It’s yours, your baby, your conceived something made real. Like anything else, it’s neither good nor bad, it merely is. The writing, that’s a different story. If all you wanted to do was get it down so you don’t lose it, it’s good no matter any errors.

If you want to present it to others, to share it, then it’s time to start wordsmithing. It’s the wordsmithing that will brand your creation good or bad. That is where writing comes into play. Sometimes, even “bad” writing is presentable. Look at some of the work of E. E. Cummings or Lewis Carroll. Even there, though, I imagine there was a bit of wordsmithing to get it the way they wanted their creation to look, to be presented to the reader.

So, now that I’m well off on a tangent with this apparently now nonsensical post I have two choices. I can get it back on track, or I can leave it the way it is and post it. I’m going to chose to leave it as is, with perhaps a little wordsmithing for grammar and typos, and leave you with this quesiton:

Is this good writing or bad? Why?


4 Responses to “Some more on Writing”

  1. CanaryTheFirst Says:

    I’d say value judgement of “bad” or “good” have no place in the writing process. A better series of questions would be, “Is this writing effective or not? Does this kind of writing appeal to my target reader? Am I pleased with this kind of writing? After a month has gone by, how do I feel about the writing I did in this manner versus other pieces I wrote? Does this writing do what I want it to do?”


  2. Bill B. Says:

    True. I should have perhaps clarified that point more, that the “good” or “bad” judgement comes not from yourself as the writer, but from your readers. I had thought that “will brand your writing good or bad” would be enough to indicate the value judgement has to come from outside you, that it’s not something you have control over. The questions you pose in your comment are some of what guide you when writing for others and are ones you should consider before you release a story for others to read.


    • CanaryTheFirst Says:

      The issue here, though, in seeking to poll your readers RE: “Is my writing good?” is that you first need to define what you want your writing to do and what readers you wish to reach.

      Heaven knows, I can’t stand Lewis Carroll’s works, and I’m definitely never going to reread anything by Hemmingway. Are they “good” writers? Well sure, I suppose they are.

      I’d rather read Connie Willis or Kurt Vonnegut.

      Another thing occurs to me:

      “I can get it back on track, or I can leave it the way it is and post it.”

      When you wrote this, some part of you had already made a judgement about the post — you realized it was off track, and that this was an issue. You, for whatever reason (expediency, impatience, acceptance), chose to post regardless. But it sounds like some part of you feels (or felt) it was “bad” writing. Otherwise, why mention it?


      • Bill B Says:

        The thing is, though, it wasn’t a poll of whether or no my writing was good or bad but rather a challenge to the reader to consider why they thought it was either good or bad writing.

        In this particular case, for what I had in mind when I posted that blog asking that question was driven by the fact that I had noticed I’d wandered a little bit. Realizing that, I had a choice: fix it so that it was truer to what I’d started writing about or allow it to remain as an example for the reader to consider. Obviously, I don’t just write and post…I write, revise, set it aside, review it, and basically do all the things I do with my stories. In this case, the more I read it, the more it seemed that my muse/subconscious/creativity/whatever took me down a slightly alternate path. It seemed valid to me and illustrated my point, so I left it as was because it was doing what I wanted it to. The proof is in the pudding, as it were: you thought enough about it to comment and discuss it.

        I never post unless I think my work is good enough for whatever public I have to be exposed to it. Even so, I appreciate and value the fact that it is not for me to determine if my writing is good or bad, that’s the decision my readers will make.


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