How to write: purpose

I’ve been teaching composition for ten years as of this August.  I’ve taught expository writing and persuasive writing equally often during that time, and it occurs to me that most of my students come to me knowing nothing about writing except that it’s hard.

Except…it’s not hard.  Writing is actually really easy, if you know how to do it.  In times past, that was taught in elementary school.  I guess it’s not taught even in high school any longer.

So, I figured I’d write a series of posts about what’s important in writing anything from a letter to the editor to an article to an editorial to a blog post meant to do nothing but entertain.

First, before you put pen to paper (or pull up a document of whatever type in your word processor program), you need to decide why you’re writing.  Do you want to teach someone how to do something?  Make somebody laugh?  Persuade your local congresscritter to vote against something?

The reason you’re writing is your purpose.  It’s incredibly important–as important as the words on the page, because it dictates literally everything else: your focus on your topic, your organization, how thoroughly developed your writing needs to be (or how concise), your tone and style, and how much attention you have to pay to your grammar and editing.

So…what do you want to write?  Think about that.  Write it down.