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Good Writing vs. Great Writing
What it means for something to create "resonance"
The world is built by those who can think, but it is ran by those who can articulate.
This is why learning how to speak and write effectively will make you invincible, regardless of social, economic, or political change. Writing is not about creating ideas out of thin air. In fact, it doesn’t create anything new. Instead, it seeks to transform the mind of the thinker with what it already knows.
Having good taste is a learnable skill
Currently, Pluripotent and my Twitter are my two primary places of production. Whenever I get a ‘that’s so obvious’ or a ‘I completely agree’ type of response, I know I’ve tapped into some sort of collective unconsciousness:
When people resonate with what you create, it means you’ve correctly diagnosed and articulated a collective idea. Successful writing is the arbitrage of capturing people’s ideas and communicating it to them before they are aware of it themselves.
Good writing, therefore, is the art of identifying what ideas already possess the mind then packaging them in a presentable way so that when someone reads it, they go, “oh, that resonates with something inside me.” Because in order to create resonance, two separate surfaces must touch.
“Good taste is knowing what your audience will like just before they do.” — Seth Godin
Writing is the packaging of ideas. Good writing creates aha-moments by identifying undefined ideas and making them clear and digestible to its audience. Great writing does that while making the audience think they took part in doing so.
Like what you see so far? :)
To know what people already think about, observe the fundamental human experiences
If writing is the packaging of ideas, then ideas are the DNA of thoughts. And much like a lot of other living things, the things we think about reproduce sexually. That is, there’s no such thing as a new idea — they only appear in new forms.
“To create is to recombine.” — François Jacob
We can think of the total amount of ideas in the universe as being a constant. We’ve held the same principles and fantasies throughout time and culture, we’ve told the same stories over and over again, just in different forms. This is why we have archetypes and tropes: think of all the fairytales whose plot revolve around the average girl turning into a princess. This trope is an evergreen idea — why? Because the desire to be unique, to be ordinary yet chosen by a great fate, is familiar to all of us.
The function of writing is to proliferate the evolution of ideas. To write is to continue the bloodline of something that is important and true about the universal human experience.
The greatest writings strike a chord within all of our hearts — themes such as love, greed, jealousy, rage, revenge, guilt, and grief, these are inescapably fundamental to the collective human understanding of emotions. Being able to write something that intimate is to tap into the moral souls of people.
“In good writing, words become one with things.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
For good writing to be great, you don’t need to try too hard to be original; all the ideas you need are there, you just need a good eye, close observation, and lots of practice packaging the meaning of your words (quality is produced through quantity when it comes to writing!).
Capture ideas = capture minds = change the world
Carl Jung said, “people don’t have ideas, ideas have people” — that is, who we think we are and what we do are largely controlled by the beliefs we adopt. Think of an idea as a gut microbe: although it is contained within us, it has an incredible ability to change our appetite, digestion, and even mood. Ideas can control you as much as you have control over what ideas you choose to let in.
What seizes your attention will change how you see the world. Great writing changes the world by changing the people it comes into contact with.
Those who can express effectively — through writing or speaking — have the future in the palm of their hands.
Thanks for reading Pluripotent! There’s good stuff on the way…I’ll let you know when it’s here 💌👇