At the risk of playing Captain Obvious here, I want to explore a thought.
It seems to me sometimes… that the choices I’m constantly making as I write… are all based on one presumption: I presume that what I’m writing will be read.
Why else would it matter what words I choose or how I decide to string them together?
Every word choice, every choice involving grammar, sentence structure, punctuation… all of these choices are made with the desired outcome of effective communication.
I want what I’m writing to be comprehensible. I want it to be accessible.
Let me get to the point.
If I were to abandon the concept of being read, what would my writing be like?
Right now, for example, I am choosing not to write in long, wordy sentences, in fat chunky paragraphs, like a textbook.
Maybe my answer lies partially therein. If I knew that this would not be read by anyone but me, I would probably tend to create more dense prose…
…Which speaks to my assumptions about who may read this.
I’m assuming that if I wrote like a textbook, most of my readers’ eyes would glaze over (like mine tend to do when I read textbooks), and that they would soon leave off reading this and go on to something else, or would find themselves at the bottom of the post without much memory of what they had read.
If I abandoned the notion of a readership, I might find myself choosing bigger words.
Instead of ‘choosing bigger words’ for example, I might write ‘applying less common terminology with a higher degree of specificity’. No really. I like to write like that.
But I was taught in a journalism class to write to the eighth-grade comprehension level.
And I know what it feels like to get bogged down in – or exasperated by – other writers’… shall we say… flourishes.
It’s funny, isn’t it, that my idea of ‘writing with abandon’ is to be more textbookish?
Seems like most people might think of writing with abandon as exposing secret fears or desires… writing luridly, floridly, recklessly, sexily…
Oh well. I am a closet academic.
So that’s it for now I guess. Just wanted to ponder ‘out loud’ about this a bit.
If you have any thoughts about this line of thinking, please comment!