Good Writing

I have always enjoyed writing. I like to think I am fairly good at it, but I certainly am not a professional author, much less a prize-winning novelist. But I enjoy it. And like most people with a hobby, they enjoy I do my best to do it well. But my definition of ‘good writing’ is changing.

For most of my life, I looked at the flow of the words. Did it emphasize the parts I wanted to bring attention to? Did it bring out the meaning I wanted to convey?

Much of my writing has had a persuasive component if not focus. For those, I was very concerned about it really saying what I wanted to say. Was I making my points well? Were they in the right order? Did I leave any important issues out?

This is true for both my personal writing and my writing for work. I can’t write without caring about how it comes out. I am always frustrated when I have to write something quickly. Even hastily concocted business letter upset my sense of proper articulation.

But now I am finding a ruler for when a story, or blog post, or personal email, etc. is ready. Beyond all of the style, and grammar, and focus there is a key ingredient I want my writing to have, heart. When it is personal writing, and sometimes even when it isn’t, I want it to be from my heart.

I think that has always been true to some degree but I never really recognized that that was what I was doing. But now, as I am letting the person inside blossom, I have found a very simple way to measure my writing.

Now, most of the time I can tell if it is ready, if there is enough heart in it, if it makes me laugh or cry. I almost always go over my writing multiple times before I consider it done. Some times, like the main parts of this website, I will review and adjust it dozens of times before I am happy with it.

But at some point during one of my reviews, I start crying or laughing depending on the focus and I know I am done. I have this sense that all is right. That the deep emotions in my heart have been shared. That I have given to my audience that little piece of me that I wanted to impart to them.

Oh, I may make a few small grammatical tweaks after this moment. But the work is done, I have shared my heart. At the moment of tears I know I have done that. The tweaks are just mechanical adjustments.

I may never win a prize for my writing. I may never make any bestseller list. But if I can do this one thing, to share my heart, I have done enough.