Guest author and Wixii, Hermy McCabe Balcomb, professes that quality writing is not an act, but rather a practiced habit.
“Over 2,000 years ago, Greek philosopher Aristotle coined three ingredients needed to enlighten human thinking. Technology and human evolution may have radically changed since his time, yet his insights remain unchanged because, I believe, they speak to the core of human learning. They are ethos, pathos, and logos. I’ll be speaking about these terms by focusing on pathos and logos first and ethos last.
- Pathos is literally defined as emotion although the Greek word also references the notion of suffering. A student once taught me to think of pathos as passion. With that said, one of literary heroes, Hemmingway once said that the first draft of anything is crap [political replacement for his original word used]. I have found when I write my first draft from a passion perspective, meaning that I don’t stop myself for edits, spelling checks etc., I’m best able to capture the key points of my writing’s intent. This draft stems from my subconscious mind, and although it often matches Hemmingway’s quote, it helps me to pinpoint my main points. Write them down on a piece of paper before starting the next process.
- Logos is literally defined as a rational principle that governs the arrangement of things. Within the academic context, it means verifiable, current resources: statistics, expert testimony to mention a few examples. A mentor once told me that you’re only as good as the credibility of your resources! If pathos deals with emotions, then logos deals with the factual side of human thinking.
- Write the body of the paper next because you’ll have your main points (pathos) with logical supports (logos). The sandwich technique is a great tool. Start each paragraph with a lead-in sentence to introduce your topic, follow it with evidence, and summarize the topic and point made with your concluding sentence.
- Write the introduction and conclusion last because you’ll already understand the ‘big picture’ of your writing’s intent. Moreover, the introduction and conclusion frame the message’s effectiveness, meaning it becomes the bookends of your writing’s personality. The part that hooks your audience (introduction) and the part that leaves a lasting impression (conclusion). I like to think of their functions through this quote by Maya Angelou: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said …but people will never forget how you made them feel.” That’s exactly what these feature intent to do!
- Have someone else proofread your paper. There’s no way that one can proofread your own work effectively; entrust that detail to a trustworthy friend because it’s a part of your ethos, meaning the overall credibility and believability of your literary work!
These five steps have formed the backbone to both my own literary expressions and the teachings that I share in my classroom. Collectively, I believe they supply the roadmap needed to improve one’s writing and confidence in communicating. After all, Aristotle once said: “Quality is not an act, it is a habit.” It’s my hope that these steps will lead to better habits of creative expressions for all of us – one literary piece at a time.”
Learn more about guest author and Wixii, Hermy McCabe Balcomb.