Friday, October 21, 2011

On writing logically

My friend Kevin Kim has posted a description of how to write essays well. His talk doesn't necessarily cover new ground, but it does explain the concepts clearly and well.  I think it is useful to remind me how to write - particularly my longer posts that do need better organization - and could be helpful to students of mine in writing classes.
 lot of students will say something like, "But I don't like outlining. I just start writing and go with that." My response to this is twofold: (1) if you're mentally organized enough to produce essays and research papers that come out in beautifully organized form, then bravo! You've alreadymastered outlining, even if you're not writing your outlines down. But, (2) if you're like most other students, your initial attempts at "going with that" will result in mushy, disorganized writing-- arguments that start but reach no conclusion, or arguments with conclusions arrived at through no discernible logical process. My rule of thumb: better safe than sorry. Get into the habit of outlining your arguments and expositions before you even begin writing. It's hard work-- I remember disliking doing this as a young student-- but it's a valuable skill that will stand you in good stead later on, especially if you're planning to get through college, and maybe even graduate school.

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