Saturday, February 12, 2011

On Writing pt. 1

Writing is an experiment of persuasion. It starts with an idea: something you just have to get outside of yourself. Sometimes it hits you, sometimes it floats in beneath all conscious thought, sometimes you have to search for it, but suddenly its there and the only way to give it any real credence is to put it into words.

I would argue that all ideas are worth having—even if simply to be humored, analyzed, found wanting, and cast out—but which are worth writing about? Any careful experiment first requires an understanding of the basics, research, in depth analysis, and development. These steps are the ‘refiner’s fire’ for an idea. But even the best ideas are refutable at first, and Charles Dickens has a point: you must humor an idea a long time before it develops. And once it develops, it’s time to begin persuading

Persuasion is a fine line. It’s not about finding an idea that is impossible to argue—those are called facts—and persuasion is not equivalent to conversion. To persuade your audience is to help them see as you see—even if for only a moment. They need not walk away converted, for good writing has the power to communicate a vision, and insofar as your audience understands your idea the way you do, you have succeeded.