The first writing tip is There are two kinds of writing: correct writing and effective writing. It’s important to get these distinctions clear because if you get caught up obsessing on writing effectively, or you’re obsessed with writing correctly, you can really get distracted from finding the balance between the two.

Look—writing can be correct, it can be done correctly with good grammar, good sentence form, good punctuation, but that doesn’t mean your writing is effective. I’ve found that a lot of what happens with students is that they really get off base because they’re obsessed with doing it the right way, thinking that if their writing is grammatically correct, it will also be effective. But that’s not how it works. You really want to learn to make sure your writing does what you want it to do, convey what you want it to, create the emotion or picture you’re trying to communicate. You can then go back and make sure your writing is correct by revising.

Aiming for effective writing first, and then correcting it afterward, will benefit your writing. You need to understand the distinction and not make the assumption that correct writing and effective writing are one and the same thing.

-Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand
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