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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: The Writer’s Skill/Craft (04/22/10)

TITLE: Our RIGHT To WRITE Responsibly
By Helen Dowd


We are blessed. We live in a free country, where we have freedom of the press. Freedom of the press? Doesn't that mean that my RIGHT as a writer is that I can WRITE what I want, without the fear of censorship? Yes. That's RIGHT! We can WRITE what we want.

But wait! Don't forget one very important aspect of WRITING: our RESPONSIBILITY as a WRITER? Think about that.

Our RESPONSIBILITY? What's that?

Words are the window of the soul. They reflect the person. Therefore, it is our responsibility to take our job seriously, to turn out the very best work we are capable of. There is no excuse for slip-shod work. Quality, not quantity, is what counts.

The desire to be a writer comes from within. But the skill must be honed. To grow as a writer we must avail ourselves of every opportunity to learn how to improve. Writing is not just throwing thoughts down on paper, and then sending them off to get published. No! We must edit, edit, edit.

Liken writing to making bread. First we gather our equipment: the bread pan, the bowl for mixing, the spatula, the measuring cup, etc. That would be like getting out our pen and paper, our thesaurus, our dictionary, and turning on our computer.

Next in the bread making process, we must gather our ingredients. To make good bread we need to measure out the ingredients into the pan. We can't just throw the water, shortening, salt, sugar, yeast and flour into the pan and expect to make good bread... In writing, our thoughts are the ingredients. In the same way, we cannot just throw words on to a page and expect them to turn out to be an enjoyable, well put-together article. We have to measure our words, throwing out inappropriate ones, gathering expressive, colorful ones.

Back to the bread making: After our ingredients are carefully measured out, we begin to stir them in until they are smooth... With writing it is the same. Our words must run smoothly. If our thoughts are there, that's one thing. But do they blend together?

Okay. Now we are finished... Not so fast! The bread making is not nearly completed. The ingredients are in; they are blended together. But now the important step: kneading, and kneading, until the dough is smooth and shiny, no longer sticky... In writing, our masterpiece is all put together. We're finished. Oh no, we are not! It's now time to edit—and edit. Are there any spelling errors? Do the tenses match? Have you used the correct grammatical forms? Is the punctuation right? (This is a tricky matter, as punctuation, within reason, is a choice of the writer.) Any good Writer's Handbook can help you here.

Back to the bread making...We're satisfied with our work. The bread rising in the pans looks wonderful. But it's not ready for eating yet. It must be baked...Our article is completed; our work is finished. To us it looks wonderful. But were we to offer it to the public right now, it would be thrown back in our faces. As with the bread, it must rest for a while, and then it must be “baked.” In other words, we must read over our composition, analyze it. It helps if we can put it away for a day, let it rest, and work on something different; but we cannot always do that. However, one thing we MUST do is: we must read our work as if it were someone else's. We must be critical. Have we said anything that could be taken the wrong way, or is offensive? Is there a word or phrase that may have a double-entendre? Is the meaning clear? Is the article inspiring, informative, uplifting? Are we satisfied that our material will be good for "eating"?

The bread is out of the oven. It looks absolutely scrumptious. The smell has permeated the house. We can hardly wait until the steam leaves it to test it...Our article is pleasing to our eye. It has a pleasant "smell". It's time to test it.

Here is the final test of our WORDS. Are they:
W - wise?
0 - orderly?
R - reflective?
D - delightful, or dutiful?
S - satisfying?

Good! We have fulfilled our RIGHT to WRITE in a RESPONSIBLE manner. We know our writing is the best we can produce. It is time to share our wonderful masterpiece with our readers.

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Member Comments
Member Date
AnneRene' Capp04/29/10
Wow...every single article I have read today has been, for me, exceptional and yours certainly is one of them.

I so enjoyed your analogy and loved how you made is so personal to the "writing" reader. Good, no...great advise, creatively done and best of all, I felt every word coming straight from your heart!
Shann Hall-LochmannVanBennekom 04/29/10
It's easy to forget the responsibility part. Thanks for the reminder.
Mariane Holbrook 05/02/10
What a great entry and what great analogies! It's almost like I was back in college listening to my favorite journalism teacher who pointed out many of the things you so beautifully discussed. You are right! There is a great deal of writing out there that is not a credit to the profession and for the reasons you mentioned. I hope you place high with this entry!