Friday, March 24, 2006

Good writing

We are in 2006 and have a pretty advanced technological and philosophical level, right? While reading articles about history of mathematics I saw that Archimedes almost developed calculus (200 BC) and wondered what our world would be like if he did (Calculus was developed in the 18th century, almost 2000 years later).

Lately I was thinking what our world would look like if we wrote ideas in a clear and understandable manner. Let's not think about the writings of big names like Einstein but your last email, the technical manual for your printer, the NABK STANAG 4355 about Modified Point Mass Trajectory Model etc. etc. When all these little nuisances add up, our life becomes pretty miserable (think of all the extra effort you have to put in to understand). I believe that if these seemingly unimportant things were written nicely, we would be, ummm, may be 3000 years more advanced.

So dear reader here are a few tips to achieve good writing (from How to Write More Clearly):

• The world is run by people who write.
• Clear writing leads to clear thinking.
• You don’t know what you know until you try to express it.

Instead of doing what’s easy for you, do what’s easy for your reader.
You do the extra work so the reader has an easy time.

Five steps:

Planning (deciding what & how to write)
Drafting (getting it on paper once)
Revising (getting it on paper better)
Editing (fixing spelling, grammar, typing)
Formatting (choosing typefaces, layout, etc.)

If you can’t figure out how to organize your material, write down ideas in random order, then sort them.

The goal of the revising step is to make your writing clearer and easier to read.

1 comment:

Rahmi Lale said...

As you stated couple of times via these pages, writing is not just for others but also for your own repertoire. Having a page where old statements and thoughts etc. can be found is very useful.

I found your writing categorization appealing. To my point of view something is missing in this categorization which is “time”.

To be keen on writing is good having ideas and so on, but I believe they must be sorted out as soon as it is possible without leaving any room to procrastinate.

We are running short in time, do not we? (check dawkin's universe-time perspective)

Bottom-line, where is the story of “visiting Norway”, where is my “börek” recipe. We do admire ideas but when they are complete. “A bold attempt is half success” an old saying. So get through Samilzziiim.