The Write Way

First Step to Better Writing? Exercise Your Mind!

Puzzle pieces flying out of handProducing logical technical, business, and scientific documents involves a great deal of reflective thinking, analysis, and decision-making. As we start the new year, resolve to revisit the basic requirement for effective writing: well developed critical-thinking skills.

Exactly what does writing have to do with critical thinking? The answer, according to Pam Hurley, Ph.D., founder and president of Hurley Write, Inc., is “Everything!” She continues, “Writing is a big puzzle and it's up to us as writers to determine how to put the puzzle together.”

So how do you go about enhancing your critical thinking abilities?

Improve critical-thinking skills
The Foundation and Center for Critical Thinking suggests that practice is important when improving critical-thinking skills. The Foundation notes that practice and a refusal to settle into know-it-all, rigid thinking can help us transform from an “unreflective thinker,” who is unaware of our own gaps in logic, to a “master thinker,” who is naturally skilled and insightful.

The group recommends picking a logical problem each day and using critical thinking to work through it during otherwise “wasted” time, such as during commutes or instead of watching TV. One common way to apply (and improve) critical thinking is known as the Socratic Method. This approach involves asking a series of questions meant to guide the answerer toward specific knowledge.

To hone your skills, you can practice the Socratic Method with nearly any topic: current events, where to go for breakfast, or which TV to buy. For example:

You can also sharpen critical thinking through games of logic and strategy, such as chess, sudoku, or solitaire.

Apply critical-thinking skills to writing
The goal of critical thinking when planning a piece of writing is to develop a better understanding of the topic, the audience, and the purpose (the action you want readers to take). For example, you might use the Socratic Method this way:

Another way to improve your skills and learn to apply them to your writing is to take a writing course. Look for a writing class that uses critical thinking as its underpinning by teaching participants strategies to help them plan, write, and revise. An effective writing course will teach more than just grammar, and will help participants develop and hone skills that will result in long-term solutions.

Hurley Write often begins its onsite writing courses with a critical-thinking exercise. This activity presents a limited set of parameters, asks participants to work within these parameters, and then requires them to explain the decisions that they made. The idea is to teach attendees to analyze the two primary pieces of the writing puzzle, audience and purpose. They also look at the other components that make up the document: word choice, paragraph and sentence structure, and logic and reason. Then, the attendees determine its success with the reader.

“The idea behind this exercise is for writers to begin to understand that writing is problem-solving,” explains Hurley. Activities like these will help your team sharpen their problem-solving abilities and, in turn, become more effective, logical writers.

To develop your critical thinking skills and learn how to apply them to technical, scientific, or business writing, call Hurley Write today.

Teaching your team to use a sound writing process is crucial to the success of your business. Hurley Write can teach your employees to write stellar content. Email us or call us toll-free at 877-24-WRITE (877-249-7483).

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Hurley Write, Inc.