Lesson 1: Time to Pay Attention

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I read the first lesson in Style: The Basics of Clarity and Grace by Joseph M. Williams, and recovered some interesting information.

"Mencken was right:  no one learns to write well by rule, especially those who cannot feel or think or see.  But I know that many do see clearly, feel deeply, and think carefully but can't write sentences that make their thoughts, feelings, and visions clear to others.  I also know that the more clearly to write, the more clearly we see and feel and think" (Williams, 6).

When I read this quote, I felt a connection to what Williams was talking about.  I know from experience that when I write in my journal, sometimes I cannot write exactly how I am feeling no matter how much I think about it and try to make the words work.  I think I am a talented writer but when it comes to describing emotions that don't even have a name for themselves?  Well, then I think it would be hard for anyone to make the right words work.

Furthermore, Williams says the more clearly we write, the more clearly we see and feel and think.  When I right the perfect sentence about the way I am feeling then I truly do feel that way for  a while.  It is almost as if I took an unknown feeling and made my own meaning for it.  I love when I can write and write and it all fits into place; it all makes sense.

"In all of this, of course, there is a great irony:  we are likely to confuse others when we write about a subject that confuses us" (Williams, 5).

When I read more on this lesson about understanding style, I realized that writing in my journal is purely writing for myself.  I still found it helpful to understand when I read Williams' above quotes because they expressed how writing makes me feel, but I want to make other people feel the same way.  When I write so clearly for myself it makes me want to write in a language that everyone can understand and benefit from; so learning this technique is a goal of mine.



2 Comments

How interesting. When I started keeping a journal (freshman year of high school, in 1983), I always thought I was writing for an audience -- my future self, reminding me what it was like as a teenager.

My son is about to turn 12... I know where all those journals are.

Aja Hannah said:

I love that feeling too! When you get a great quote/sentence/phrase to describe the exact feeling or motion you want/feel/experience, it's so exciting and I wish all my writing was like that. Especially when it's original/not cliche.

I just started keeping a journal (for publisher's workshop) so I hope this helps me reach those momements more frequently.

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