Reflection on Writing
Writing is an inward exploration of truth intrinsically tied with authority. The nature of writing demands both introspection and authority to produce a critical subject understanding, highlighting the difference between a derivative and original thought. Writing’s essence of truth and authority clarifies when one considers the need for rhetoric to prove a position or elucidate some truth.
By nature, writing assumes a position whether to prove a point or to tell a story, and in either case, writing requires rhetorical skill. Perceiving writing as an inward self-discovery alludes to the development of deep idea comprehension. This comprehension occurs intrinsically as a form of rational inquiry where the author must prove the point to herself. If no critical thought occurs with a subject, the author risks parroting other thinkers, and worse yet, defending or promoting erroneous ideas. But this self-discovery is not just a logic exercise since it requires an external exploration of ideas. One cannot know if they are correct if they have not studied the various views surrounding a subject. When understood, a topic or idea turns from an inward exploration of truth to an argument or compelling story, no matter the form.
Academic writing is formal and meant to argue a point in an obvious manner, lending itself to factual argumentation as the primary form of rhetoric. While often dry and dull, academic writing exemplifies the purpose of writing which is to make some point. More than any other form of writing, academic writing clarifies that people don’t write for themselves: a fact that demands the skill of rhetoric no matter what one writes since authroship, by its nature, persuades the reader to some point, thus making the author the authority. The assumption of authority by the author is far more important than most people understand or believe and can detract from life’s opportunities.
The Resume as Argument
Perhaps the clearest and best example of writing having a positive or negative impact is the resume. Writing becomes a power position by nature since the author must make a point and persuade others to believe that point. This authority is true of all forms of writing, especially a resume. A resume is not a plea for a job; it is an argument for a job. The resume persuades the employer of the applicant’s best fit for the company. Applicants assuming a position of weakness, which many do unaware, write themselves out of a job. They fail in this way by writing in nonauthoritative ways, such as saying, “I believe I am the best candidate for this job because I have a strong understanding of HTML.” This statement may appear innocuous, but it is self-sabotaging rhetoric because it provides little strength to the candidate’s argument for the position. In context, the candidate is supposed to have a strong understanding of HTML, thus proving nothing over other applicants with HTML knowledge. The statement also fails as a strong argument because it infers a question of credibility or confidence. Opening the sentence with “I believe” infers other people may not believe or that only you believe this statement. The more effective statement affirms the person as the best applicant by removing the question and proving worthiness in some manner valuable to the employer. “Possessing an intimate understanding of HTML allows me to code fast and efficiently, adding value to teams and projects.” Understanding rhetoric allows this applicant to describe a skill in an appealing and persuasive manner.
Perhaps even more effective than academic writing is the narrative since storytelling readily lends itself to ethos, pathos, and logos rhetorical devices. Literary fiction provides a vehicle for proving a point and in a large sense we are all storytellers because we communicate with other people. Seen in this context, relating situations in reports at work or creating proposals demands the expression of some meaningful point; otherwise, why write it? On the job, many people wonder why one person’s reports or input to teams or management garners more attention than others? Perhaps it is a situation of favoritism but often the person is speaking in a persuasive way. More importantly, the winning proposal might just sound better because it tells a better story. When seen in this way, the narrative gives you power because you can sway opinion to your cause even when you are wrong. Managers making bad decisions based on information and recommendations happens all the time.
Awareness of weak writing is vital and actively identifying this issue can solve it. Looking back at past proposals and reports, many people find weak points in writing such as using wishy-washy statements like “it is my opinion” or “choosing this option might be the best means.” Business managers and leaders seek answers not possibilities and qualifying statements with as opinion or possibility makes a person sound unsure. Writers often wonder why so many people skip past an article or read so little of the article and this often due to the reader losing interest in the weak rhetoric.
There is a large movement today to speak in a manner that is humble sounding but doing this is self-sabotaging because paradoxically people want definitive answers. Understanding the craft of writing and the need to be persuasive opens many unknown avenues of thought and benefits to life. As a skill, writing appears almost abandoned when superficially compared with other forms of media, but ultimately everything filmed and programmed must be written. What is a movie without a script? Understanding this necessity for writing opens many roads such as confidence and successful writing reports or projects. Ultimately, writing may prove the most valuable skill underpinning whatever position you take since persuasive communication can distinguish you from peers.