What is “Good Writing”?

One thing that I firmly believe about writing is that there truly is no way to define what “good writing” is. However, over the years I have learned what most qualify as “good writing” and, while these rules should not necessarily be ignored or forgotten about, they should certainly not be the litmus test for judging whether or not someone is a “good writer.”

For example, in my early elementary school years my teacher made our entire class sign a contract that we would never start a sentence with the words “and” or “because.” Now, the teacher did not specifically say that if we did this our writing would not be considered “good”, but this did stick with me over the years and I think it creates a harmful precedent for children. Instead, the emphasis that I believe should be placed on writing to children is to focus more on being honest, creative, and to make sure the message of their writing is understood by their audience.

Over the years, I have found that being an effective writer is much more important than being a “good” writer. In other words, it is okay if not every comma is in the right place or every word is spelt correctly, just so long as the writing is coherent and the message of the writing is clearly portrayed. I came to this belief from my own experiences with writing. I have loved writing since a very young age. I love creating stories and getting lost in the worlds I create when I write. However, during school I struggled with the standardized rules of writing and it was usually the subject I scored lowest in during school. I think it is important to know the basic rules of writing, but when I begin the teach, I plan to make it a point that students will not get points taken off for simple grammatical or spelling errors.

Another reason that is impossible to define good writing is because our beliefs and understanding of writing is a never ending process. There is not a curriculum that will be taught the same way every year, and even professors who have been writing for decades can learn more about writing. Nobody will ever know everything there is to know about writing. Writing is not a math problem that can be solved the same way every time, or a date in history that can be memorized for an exam. Writing is and should always be be a complicated, irregular, authentic, and free-spirited process that should not be inhibited rules that do not add to the overall effectiveness of a person’s writing.

In my future classroom, I hope I can encourage students to be themselves when they write and not worry too much about breaking some rules. The first step with my students will be to focus on how to write effectively, such as, writing a solid thesis, giving good evidence to back up your claims, and understanding who your audience is. Overall, I hope to help students understand the conceptual stipulations of being an effective and thoughtful writer.