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Why Writing Is Both a Science and An Art

by Erica Silva | The Web Writer Spotlight: Jul 17, 2017

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Writing, in all its varied forms, is an empowering and complex process. It calls upon the writer to bring together the random thoughts in his left and right parts of the brain and shape them into something useful, beautiful and inspiring so that another person can understand it.

The need to feel understood and to know what one thinks about it, matters and is universal.
 

Writing craft 101

 

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We have all probably heard that writing is both a science and an art. That may be true for the artistic endeavors, but how does that play out in actually writing a meaningful story?

If you break the aspect down into two elements, art and science, it helps to explain the how and the why. Writing craft is the technical-science side, while storytelling is the art side.

The science of writing includes sentence structure, grammar and POV-active sentences. It’s all about knowing the difference between ‘telling’ and ‘showing’ the added layers to your characters.

 

The science of good writing

 

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The Writing Craft 101 series teaches you that science can be learned by absorbing the basics of certain elements. There are countless books explaining the story of structure and what elements are needed in what order. They teach how to drive plot and increase tension for the climax.

The science of writing is all the details that go in developing good craft and it is absolutely essential. Once in every great while, a gifted story teller comes along, sweeping people off their feet despite a lack of craft, but mostly it is good craft that enables a good story to be received –ungirding it, making it beautiful and shiny. Without good craft writing, the story gets lost in a jumble of a poor backstory and POV issues.

Hence, to be an impactful writer, you need to understand, learn and implement good writing techniques.
 

The psychological aspect of writing

 

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When Dr. Robert Maurer, PhD, made it to a writer’s organization in London, England, he was allowed to back up for a moment and discuss the quiet change that has been taking place in psychology. For over the course of 100 years, the subject has been studying the lives of people in distress and creating stories and therapies based on their experiences with the lot.

However, recently, psychology has started to deal with people whose lives are successful in relationships, health and work. What could we possibly learn if we studied thriving families, romantic bonds and successful children in school, who go home to good relationships? These people may have uncovered the secret to successful living.

Even though they don’t exactly do them justice, there are four basic skills shared amongst majority of successful people. One is the awareness of the need for attention as well as generosity in giving and appreciating; two is awareness of respecting others and reaching them out in difficult times; three is having a compassionate and automatic ‘nurturing voice’ that reassures others that ‘it is okay to make mistakes, it is okay to ask for help’; and fourth is successful people possessing a sense of mission and vision – they are clear about their goals and have a strong sense of purpose.

Now, you must be wondering: what does all this have to do with writing? A great deal, in fact. Dr. Maurer interviewed writers and observed their skills of creating and moving characters in their stories. It became evident that they had reached similar conclusions without the aid of computer or research methodologies. Their apt observational skills and wisdom led them to the same heights and therefore, according to Maurer, writers are the ‘true scientists’ of this age.

 

The artistic writer

 

“People on the outside think there’s something magical about writing, that you go up in the attic at midnight and cast the bones and come down in the morning with a story, but it isn’t like that. You sit in back of the typewriter and you work, and that’s all there is to it.” – Harlan Ellison

When you think about most types of writing, art is not the first thing that comes to mind. The only exceptions can be onomatopoeic prose or poetry, which are generally quite artistic. But can other forms of writing be considered an art too?

According to Merriam-Webster, art is the use of skill and imagination to create something that is not only beautiful but also emotionally expressive. Upon digging a little deeper, you will realize that it’s the same dictionary that says any skill can be termed an art. Thus, you have the art of cooking, the art of diplomacy and even the art of making friends.

As long as you exercise a little imagination and creativity in the process, anything you’re skillful at or positive about, can be considered an art.

 

The art of brevity

 

I doubt whether any person would ever take a lawyer to be an artist, although it is true that being a writer of legal documents is artistic since you have to do a lot of deep thinking and produce watertight work. There is also a lot that practices the art of brevity – providing you with bare facts only.

‘It was a good day. We went to the café, had a meal and then went home.’ It’s all rather ho-hum and boring, isn’t it?

Let’s try it from a different angle.

‘It was a wonderful day with fluffy clouds sailing across the sky so impeccable and blue it defied description. We ate magnificent food at a charming restaurant with a courtyard shaded by green trees. After lunch, we took a scenic route home along the wide lakeshore, bumping and rattling along the untarred road.’

It definitely isn’t Wordsworth-worthy, who would no doubt have formulated this together more poetically, but I can bet that most people would find the second piece more expressive and creative. The ample use of descriptive words such as lovely weather or pleasant café immediately propels you to visualize the scene in your head.


Art: the moving aspect

 

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Art is what happens when a reader picks up your piece, is moved, touched and engaged by it in some way or another. Art is a subjective and emotional experience. Whether it is funny, romantic, or scary, the main goal is to engage your reader on an emotional level. Create the empathy, boost that visceral reaction. Your story becomes memorable if you can capture’s your readers’ emotions.

The understanding of art, unlike science, is innate – the ability to create and receive it in different proportions. If you consider yourself to be an avid writer, you probably have the talent of magically composing words to some extent. You have a thing for stories, you have an emotional connection with words, which is why you’re pursuing writing and thinking to yourself ‘how often should I blog’ every passing day.
 

The magic of writer’s creativity

 

Be it any frame, when it comes to writing, innovative speculation is critical. Whether you plan to drench yourself in composing a poetic verse, believe that there is a novel in you, or are just handling a blog entry or an article, your creativity can transform it into a work of art.

Factual writing, in comparison with poetry, might not be artful, but there is somehow one or more element of creativity in the way information is presented. They make you need to peruse and discover more. Basically, any sort of composing can be called art, yet genuine creativity is what that transforms it into something extraordinary. It is not what you have that matters, but rather what you do with it.

See Also: How to Overcome Uncertainty, Doubt and Fear, The Psychic Banes of Creativity.

 


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Erica Silva is a blogger by choice. She loves to discover the world around her. She likes to share her discoveries, experiences and express herself through her blogs. Currently, she is associated with Airg Team for development work. Check out her firm’s performance reviews.

Find her on Twitter:@ericadsilva1

 


 

Image Credits: 1, 2, 3, 4.

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