Definition and Techniques of Writing Skill

Explain the techniques of writing skill and indicate problems in writing.  Point out the differences between spoken and written language.

Defining Writing Skills:

Good writing skills are essential for effective communication. The better you write, the more easily readers will understand you. Learning to write well takes time and practice.
It has been agreed that writing is a means of communication made possible through graphics symbols, arranged according to certain conventions to form words which in turn are arranged to form sentences. The sentences are logically and grammatically connected to form a piece of writing.

Writing like listening involves a writer (producer) and a reader (receiver). Writing involves interaction between the writer (encoder) and the reader (decoder).  Communicative writing means the use of orthography in order to construct grammatically correct sentences which communicate a meaning to the reader

Orthography + lexis + grammar + meaning = communicative writing

Techniques of Writing

Smith suggests that both writers and readers must respect the writing conventions in order for communication to take place.  Writing has its conventions for spelling, for punctuation, for grammar, for paraphrasing and capitalization. There are more than one convention for arranging words grammatically and meaningfully into sentences and conventions about how sentences themselves are interrelated.  Thus an effective piece of writing request a number of things including the graphic systems of the language.

For a natural piece of writing coherence and cohesion are also extremely important features.  Coherence is the thread or the theme of the writing that keeps the text together and cohesion is part of the system of the language, expressed partly in grammar ad partly through vocabulary.  Cohesion is also expressed in other features such as punctuation and intonation.

In everyday conversation we make all kinds of points or assertions in written form.  To communicate clearly and effectively we need to learn, practice and apply writing skills.  During the process we may discover that we have a positive attitude about writing.  However, even if we have mixed or negative feelings, we are probably now more aware of the fact.  Such awareness can be a vital first step in changing attitude.

Always be sure to limit the point that starts a paragraph.  If you do not limit your point, you may have to write a book to support the point adequately.  Like words sentences should also be made specific, making indefinite writing into lively image filled writing.  The details how us exactly what has happened as compared to a general idea like

Problems in Writing

According to Smith:

“For some people writing often comes easily, others find it a continued struggle.  Some people find writing a strain, others a release.  Students very often find it hard to compose a piece of writing since they do not know the right words, they do not know the right grammar or they are not good at composing and organizing.  Sometimes they cannot even think of anything to write.  This results in dry, flat, mechanical prose full of grammatical errors and empty of life and contents.”

Soe of the major factors contributing for a difficult writing are as follows:

1.            Psychological Factors

Writing involves knowledge of the writer and its purpose.  Lack of knowledge will make it difficult to write well.

2.            Linguistic Factors

Writing is the real test of one’s linguistic abilities whereas in speaking a speaker can take help from paralinguistic devices.  Similarly a non-native person will not have the same range of lexical and syntactic choices available and may find it difficult to write as compared to a native person.

3.            Cognitive Factors

Cognitive factors relate to the interest in the specific writing task.  Writing without a purpose or audience i.e. artificiality of the writing task makes writing an unpleasant job.

4.            Process of Writing

Writing is an extremely complex undertaking with a number of operations such as generating ideas, planning and outlining, drafting, revising etc.  At any time a line can be erased, a page thrown away, and even sometimes everything that has been written can be changed, added to, and deleted from ad put into a completely different order.  Writing is thus viewed as a series of overlapping and interacting process.

Linguists divide composition writing into three distinct stages

–               Pre-writing

–               Writing

–               Post-Writing

Pre-writing is preparatory stage and involves thinking, reflecting and planning about what can go on.

Writing is the real act of putting ideas to pen, translating images into meaning.  It is a process of discovering and exploring ideas and putting these on paper.

Post-Writing is written, it needs reading, reviewing and editing to be modified and polished.

Difference between Spoken and Written Language

Both spoken and written discourse represents an interactive process of negotiation; however the process of speaking and writing are not identical.  Many professional academic writers have expressed their opinion regarding the differences between the two, which are listed below:

Difference Spoken Written
Function Speech is basically interaction between the speaker and the listener. Written language is mainly transactional in function.
Process Speakers make use of linguistic, paralinguistic and prosodic features such as stress, speed, loudness, facial expression and gestures.

Speech can be interrupted for asking clarification.  A speaker can backtrack, clarify and revise ideas as listeners question or disagree.

Speech has to hear in real times.

Speech cannot be reorganized once delivered.

Writers, rely on linguistic and geo graph logical devices such as punctuation and capitalization to get the message across.

Writing cannot be interrupted and a writer has to compensate for all those disadvantages since writing is a monologue.

Written languages can be stores and can be read over space and time.

Writings can be revised even after written.

Product Spoken communication can be planned, unplanned or spontaneous.  Spoken text does not necessarily follow the conventions.A good speech may not follow any given format, a title, heading, an introduction and a conclusion or may not clearly divided into paragraphs  Written communication is usually carefully planned and convention bound which allows to be understood by the readers.A good piece of writing should be coherent and cohesive.  It should have a title or heading; it should have an intro, a development and a conclusion and must be divided into paragraphs divided

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