If I write more specifically, I will be able to demonstrate each idea more clearly.
When I look back at my previous writing, I am somewhat proud of the fact that I wrote something. But the more I look, the more I am disgusted by my lack of writing skill. I am inspired by other great writers that came before me, yet my thoughts do not flow as theirs do. It’s as if I am talking to the paper, hoping that whoever is on the other side is giving it as much care into this essay as I am.
I care about the things I write because I identify myself with the ideas I have. Or I like to say, the ideas have me. I am their agent. But when the ideas inside me are trying to present themselves and be encoded into a series of words on the screen, they compete with one another, vying for my and the reader’s attention. There are many ideas of mine that I find interesting, and it’s impossible for them to all talk at once. And when they try to shine all at once, both myself as the writer and you as the reader are overwhelmed. There are too many shiny stones in one bin.
Taking this frustration, I define a problem: there are too many details that I present as a part of one bigger idea. Even though the many details may be sufficient and necessary components of the big idea, when the smaller ideas are too big, the reader can’t see the forest for the trees.
For example, when I wrote about problem solving, I had big details that would have been good 500-word articles on their own; I wrote 4000 words and bored my readers to starvation. For each subtopic I addressed, I did not provide enough context for each method. I failed to show that the problem-solving frustrations were rooted in emotion. Emotion that I did not demonstrate.
So what should I do when I face such a situation where I am about to write about a big idea with other big sub-ideas? I can think of a few potential solutions:
- take each topic and describe each one at a time
- tell a story for the reader to interpret
- summarize the details for a specific expert audience
- make each into a section
- write smaller articles
- after breaking it down divide it
- make headings for each subsection
- allude to other literature and pick up on their insights
- do not do grounded work, add to tree of knowledge
- interpret the literature in combination
- translate the older works into more contemporary works by providing equivalent examples
That list was just a quick list of thoughts I came up with after staring at the problem for a minute. Now, if I wanted to implement such a list, then I’d need some kind of recipe. Here I try to describe my current writing algorithm, after thinking about some potential solutions:
- take stream of consciousness writing into bullet points
- break down into manageable bits
- refer to literature about what we already know about the particular subject
- reinterpret the literature by using contemporary examples
- combine my original idea with the literature by using their vocabulary to add to tree of knowledge
- finish conceptualizing with a grand model the if -> then statement
- start writing by filling out the details of bullet points
- use the grand model as an introduction
- use each component of the grand model as paragraphs
- use examples as supporting paragraphs
- conclude the lesson by wrapping up the concept into a nice-sounding sentence/adage/rhyme.
I got the following list as by googling “writing specifically”: http://iepgateway.weebly.com/uploads/2/5/6/9/25691437/write_specifically_and_concretely.pdf
- possibly use numbers to solidify the abstraction
- provide evidence for the abstraction
- there should be no gaps for the flow
- show critical thinking by pointing to something that’s broken
- define the frustration-problem-solution
- practice to internalize this skill
I try my best to get what’s in my head out into a codified bit of information on the internet. I am an aspiring writer looking to combine old ideas into fresh ones as a remix. I’m just the messenger. This piece of writing was more for myself, but if it helped you in any way, I’m grateful that I helped you become a better writer, too. Writing specifically helps understanding it terrifically.