I have heard before and I believe it to be so that clear writing is clear thinking.
Your words translate the thoughts in your head.
A fuzzy and unclear writing automatically means an unarticulated and non directional thinking.
Imagine that I was telling a story about an event. To understand me, I’d have to be careful about the sequence and turn of each scenario.
My words will be logical enough so that you could appreciate why this or that occurred and their consequences.
It would be ridiculous to jump through scenes and land at a conclusion.
The flow of words; of anything so careful constructed requires the intentional articulation of thoughts.
The articulation of thoughts starts with carefulness and purpose.
Clear thinking is to be conscious of the thoughts directed to solve a particular problem and to be able pose the right questions.
Your journey to writing clearly is kick started by thinking clearly.
As writers that are so used to bursts of creativity and inspiration, it is easy to limit writing to just a reflection of talent. It is natural for our minds to wander into what we think are great story ideas only for us to face the paper and realize that our thinking was neither directional nor even logical.
I for one started out thinking that writing was just about the glorious moments of creativity but I remember a favorite quote by David that pretty much summarizes everything
“Writing is thinking. To write is well is to think clearly. That is why it’s so hard”
Next time I’m crying over my laptop, I’ll remember this. Thanks David.
At the risk of sounding cliché, I would say that talent is a gift.
You recognize it.
It might have been said to you on occasions “oh you write so well, you are a natural,”
Some of us didn’t need to think about it. We didn’t earn it.
However, the place of thinking clearly and inadvertently writing clearly requires effort and mastery.
Turning that gift into something outstanding requires work.
So, how can I think clearly as a writer?
Have something to think on
There goes the favorite quote by Lawyers.
“No one gives what he doesn’t have”. I’ll spare you the headache of the Latin translation.
If you don’t have anything to think on, I can imagine how difficult it would be to even think at all.
Stuff yourself with stories and ideas.
When you have a wealth of information to pick from, it‘s a lot easier to start.
Read about likeminded people. Devour the books of your favorite writers or thought leaders. Be a cornucopia of information and stories.
This is what I mean – write about something that actually interests you.
I learnt this from Julian Shapiro, the topic you should be writing on is the one you cannot not write about.
Write about the topic that continually tugs at you.
The one that relieves a burden from you.
The one that keeps you up at night.
It is good to begin from an emotional premise.
Being passionate about the topic doesn’t necessarily mean that you must know so much about it.
As a matter of fact, it is quite fine if you don’t.
Feelings begets thinking.
Your thinking starts at that point where you are convinced that you should write about it.
Once upon a time, I honestly used to wait till I had enough information about a topic before writing.
While it is indeed advisable to have a background of information on a topic, it is impractical to think that you can know everything before starting because guess what? You don’t even know what you need till you start writing.
What is free writing?
It is like emptying your brain.
It is tossing everything you know about a certain topic without judgment or thought; writing for a set period of time without stopping.
This helps you dig up and test your thinking.
That way it is easy to know where you have deficiency of information.
It is liberating and a way of enabling your thought process.
Deliberately organize your thought process
The writing process can be overly complicated.
Expert writers don’t underestimate this and deliberately find a system that works.
Organizing the writing process starts from outlining- creating a map from your first tiniest thought to the biggest idea.
This is why note taking is king.
With notes you are able to keep track of your random ideas about a topic.
Writing is simply about connecting these ideas.
When you sit to write, these notes serve as a guide. Clarity forms after gathering your notes.
Thinking clearly starts with your first note.
Ask the right questions
You’re set up to fail if you spend all your time chasing the answer to the wrong question.
Thank you Zig Ziglar.
Thinking clearly as a writer must begin with the right questions. This cannot be overemphasized.
Once you get a story idea, narrow it to a statement or sentence. That’s a powerful way to start.
Writing a story or solving anything is a problem; you will not make meaningful progress without the right questions.
Clarity starts with a penetrating question that reveals your mission statement.
Solve your problem by squeezing it into a tightly focused question.
Squeezing your problem reduces the space you are required to explore and makes you more focused.
Squeeze by asking “who,” “what,” “where,” “when,” and “how” questions.
Who are my addressing?
What are the major problems I am seeking to address?
Where do I start from?
When do I start?
How can I make it easier?
Don’t hesitate to eliminate.
Do not get attached to ideas. When the time is come, remember the ones that should stand.
After squeezing and asking the right questions, remove the ideas that are vague and should not be explored.
So much about thinking clearly is taking note of the ideas that are not worth dwelling on.
Listen to yourself and manage your energy.
Don’t fool yourself; the process of writing is mentally exhausting.
You can actively help your thinking process as a writer by being learning to manage your energy.
Do you do better in the morning ?
Do you require a quiet place to think?
Do you write with a specific kind of music?
Don’t stop till find the system that works for you.
In order to achieve a goal, you must have a system and if you care about the goal, you will focus on the system.
Congratulations. You’re on your way to thinking clearly.