What is writing?

This is a question that anybody who reads or writes asks at one time or another. What is writing may lead us to ask the questions what is good writing, or what makes good writing?

The answer to this question is complex and often unique to the person asking the question. Personally, when I used to ask myself what is writing, I firstly considered works that are of considerable length or a recognized style. For example, a novel, a short story, a poem, a newspaper or magazine article, or a screenplay. They are all examples of writing and are the first things that I thought of when asked the question what is writing.

Then I started to wonder, is it somewhat arrogant to ignore other forms of writing? Why do I not think of emails, letters, brochures and catalogues, or graffiti as writing? All have a particular style and involve a process of reasoning and articulation on behalf of the writer. In actual fact, a clever or intriguing brochure, a well-crafted email and a graffiti tag are not merely writing, they are in themselves an art form. An author of a 100,000 word novel may read this and scoff, wondering how their masterpiece, their art, can share the title of art with an email? It is a simple thing when we think about it. Writing a well-crafted email takes practice and skill. It is not something that can be picked up overnight. I have read terrible emails and fantastic emails, just as I have read terrible novels or short stories and fantastic novels or short stories. Each involves artful use of the written word, and I consider each to be a form of writing.

Social media sites have handed us further categories for writing. We now have tweeting on Twitter and status updates on sites such as Facebook. Much of the writing on these sites requires learning how to communicate with short messages that are engaging, compelling and entertaining. Authors love detail, but social media sites love short and snappy messages.

In short, when I now think about what is writing, I consider all things from a cereal box to a bestselling novel to be writing. They all involve understanding how to use the written word to best convey your message or idea. If I am asked to answer the question of what I consider to be good writing, the list may change. What I consider to be good writing is purely subjective, but I would rather keep personal feelings aside and consider anything that involves use of the written word to be writing.

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