Thursday, November 15, 2012

More on the importance of writing

How does one become a good writer?

a.  Anyone who has the brains to gain a commission has the brains to become a good writer. It requires work. It doesn’t come easily or quickly. It demands time and effort to master the language. It demands practice, practice and more practice. Lastly, the writer must have something to say. The task is to deliver the message of substance in the clearest possible way. Almost always this means the shortest way.
b.  A person who reads a lot soon finds that writing is almost as easy as reading. Most effective officers read a lot, and not just instruction manuals.
c.  The only way to become a writer is to write. There are reasons why the services are so free with dictionaries and run so many courses on fundamental writing skills. There are reasons why the services have either published or adopted a manual style and format. The services want to provide opportunities for mastery of the language. Just as a condition of the profession demands that an officer master a particular weapon, learning the language of the profession is similarly essential. Poor spelling, poor grammar and lack of specific vocabulary are excuses, not the result of effort. Even great athletes, whose stock in trade is essentially muscular coordination, understand the need for practice.
d.  In the same way, good writing comes from practice and practice and more practice. Only after the process of making words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into chapters becomes a natural rhythmic process does the stamp of individuality and personality shine through the writing to the reader.

From The Armed Forces Officer available HERE.

4 comments:

Jim Murphy said...

Mike, nice article. I wish more military professionals would take up the call to write. Not only is good writing important, but the sharing of good ideas is as well. I believe one of the keys to good writing is to write about things you're passionate about...it makes the writing easier to perform and helps create something compelling for readers.

I particularly appreciated the closing sentence of the post:

"Only after the process of making words into sentences and sentences into paragraphs and paragraphs into chapters becomes a natural rhythmic process does the stamp of individuality and personality shine through the writing to the reader."

mike said...

Thanks Jim. Always appreciate your comments. I do most of my 'real' writing with pen and paper. I've written nearly 300 essays over the past year in the form of personal letters to friends and Shipmates. I really enjoy putting thoughts and ideas on paper. I know you do as well.

Jim Murphy said...

Mike, thank you, and yes I do enjoy getting thoughts down on paper. I enjoy taking a blank sheet of paper (or a virtual MS Word sheet of paper) and filling it with ideas; give me some sense of immediate gratification. I'm considering expanding my venues a bit and maybe getting into some different topics through those venues. We shall see.

Jason said...

"The task is to deliver the message of substance in the clearest possible way. Almost always this means the shortest way."

This has been a recent focus of mine.

"A person who reads a lot soon finds that writing is almost as easy as reading"

Completely agree. I find that between reading books I write less. But the moment I pick up a new book my fingers start itching to tell a story.