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Good Reading and Good Thinking as a Prerequisite to Good Writing

Preface to Lectures on Style, by Karl Philipp Moritz

❶To see what your friends thought of this quote, please sign up! Knowing a lot of rules will not help us to write well.

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Very different writing styles. And both, in our judgment, wonderful pieces of writing. Writing well, like doing good sociology, is also not easy. Our authors spend a great deal of time honing their insights and findings, and we work with them closely to ensure their prose is as clear and compelling as possible.

The written word, after all, is the primary means by which we confirm core knowledge, generate new ideas, and clarify and debate unresolved questions. Good writing may be, as Monte Bute suggested in commenting on George Orwell in our last issue, the most basic and fundamental method of the sociological enterprise, and the key to realizing the promise of our big, broad, synthetic vision of the world.

In an increasingly interdisciplinary and yet specialized academic environment, no discipline is better positioned to play a leading intellectual role than sociology itself—if we can formulate and disseminate our ideas properly. None of this is to suggest the writing that appears in our leading journals is bankrupt or misguided, or even that it is not often very good.

Quite the contrary, we believe journal articles even very technical or dense, theoretical ones have an indispensable place and purpose, and we both take pride in the work we publish in these venues.

The point, rather, is to insist that good writing—clear, purposeful thinking put into words on a page—is crucial to sociology and the task of rendering social life meaningful and intelligible. His research interests focus on race and ethnicity, multiculturalism, popular culture including sports and religion , and contemporary American society.

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David McCullough — ‘Writing is thinking. To write well is to think clearly. That's why it's so hard.(Interview with NEH chairman Bruce Cole, Humanitie.

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An appropriate instruction to a good way of writing does not have to overwhelm the memory with useless rules. Instead, it should sharpen the mind. A useful instruction to a good way of writing will inevitably contain an instruction to a right way of thinking, an instruction to a somewhat practical logic.

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In order to improve your writing and your thinking, apply these three tips: 1 Learn to create an outline. A good outline structures your thinking and shows you a clear path from the beginning to the end of whatever you’re going to write, whether it’s a blog post, essay, research paper, or dissertation. Really. Because writing—that first leap into taking your idea and making it a Thing People Read—isn’t really about wording. It’s about thinking. And if you can tell the difference between an article that knows what it’s about and one that exists purely to sell ad space, then you’re pretty good at that already.

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Good writing can’t be reduced to proper punctuation or grammar. It isn’t just stringing together words that convey other people’s ideas in a more accessible, poetic, or clever way. Good writing is the actual accomplishment and physical embodiment of clear thinking and strong analysis. We write because we are reacting to someone or something. While writing can feel like an isolating, individual act—just you and the computer or pad of paper—it is really a social act, a way in which we respond to the people and world around us. Writing happens in specific, often prescribed contexts.