When a reader finishes what you wrote, you’ll want them to walk away with your core message. That means your writing needs to be concise and clear to whoever chooses to read your work.
However, how do you ensure that what you put down on the page makes sense to others? Well, the answer is easier than you might think: critical thinking.
Now you’ve probably heard ever since middle school that critical thinking is important, but it truly is the heart of creating thought-provoking writing. Critical thinking allows you to reason and correlate thoughts together, whether you’re writing a persuasive essay, fantasy novel, or blog post.
Connecting Your Thoughts in Writing
When you write, you’re explaining something to someone else. The act of writing relies on putting thoughts into words whether that’s a story or information you know.
Think about it: the process of writing involves coming up with the ideas and formulating coherent sentences. That means writing can invaluably help you learn to process relevant talking points over time.
Using Critical Thinking Skills When Writing
Now that we’ve established that words are thoughts, it’s important to start using critical thinking skills to help better what you wrote. You’ll want the final draft to be relevant to whomever your target audience is, and that means editing carefully.
Critical thinking in writing is effectively presenting thoughts, talking points, and information to your reader. Whatever you write, you’ll want it to make sense to somebody else.
You’ll need to carefully edit the draft of whatever you’re writing. Critical thinking can take time to learn, and oftentimes you’ll need to reread your piece more than once to catch each nuance.
What Critical Thinking Means in Writing
Critical thinking means taking a step back from your work and reading through it objectively. You can’t critically think about your piece if all you’re thinking is that you’ve worked really hard on it and it’s going to be the greatest work of literature.
So in order to critically think, you need to put yourself in this mindset:
- Get rid of your emotions and attachment to your work
- Think about your writing from another perspective
- Ask yourself tough questions, such as “does this make sense?” or “is this needed?”
- Be ready to look for flaws or gaps in logic
- Think about how assumptions might hinder your writing
You must be ready to critically analyze your writing. If you aren’t, it’s recommended to set aside your work for a week. This will help distance yourself from your writing and give you an incentive to critically proofread.
How to Begin Critically Thinking When Writing
Critical thinking isn’t something most writers can learn in a day. It takes time and practice to be able to set aside your biases and read objectively.
However, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to begin working on this skill today. Here’s a few ways you can start developing critical thinking skills to improve your writing.
Think About Each and Every Detail
In order to start generating thought-provoking writing, you’ll want to consider all the details you should include. This includes everything from hard facts to minor foreshadowing. The details and the order they’re presented directly impact how the reader experiences your writing.
You don’t want anything you write to be inconsistent or irrelevant. Objectively look at the piece you’re writing and ask yourself for the purpose of each sentence. If you find extra facts or sentences that weight the piece down, get rid of them.
Here’s some questions to consider:
- What is the purpose of your writing? Are you looking to educate or entertain? In order to begin critically thinking about your writing, understand the purpose behind the work you’re making.
- What are the sources of your information? If you’re trying to convince someone of your point, always consider the validity of your sources. Try to pull facts from credible entities.
- How long does your writing need to be to get to the point? If you can boil down the essence of your work into less than you wrote, reconsider what you need and don’t.
You should also consider presenting your work to a trusted friend who will tell you if what you wrote feels jarring. This means don’t choose your Mom or a person who won’t give you a full critique. Another set of eyes can help you distinguish what feels necessary and what’s extra fluff.
Consider the Organization of Information
The way information is presented matters. As humans, we’re visual creatures, and you’ll want your writing to dive straight into the core without overloading the reader. Most people don’t have the time to read ten thousand words unless they’re incredibly invested in what they’re reading.
That means you only have one chance to grab someone’s attention. Here’s some ways you can think about the organization of information:
- The amount of white space. Does your work have enough of paragraph indents? How about space between points? Consider writing shorter paragraphs and having plenty of white space so readers can digest the work.
- Bullet points, lists, or talking points. Considering organizing some of your work into easy-to-read sections so your reader can stay for what they need. After all, some readers might only be looking for information on one specific point.
- How does one paragraph flow into the next? Consider the paragraph structure of your writing: does every point lead to the next?
Objectively ask yourself if the way you’ve organized your writing makes sense. You can check this by making a list of bullet points and analyzing if one topic seamlessly connects into the next.
What tone should your writing take?
Look at what you wrote. Are you trying to get someone to sympathize or laugh? Critically thinking about your writing means understanding how your readers should respond.
It’s difficult to know how others will react, so here’s a few ways you can check the tone of your writing:
- Look at diction. The words you choose have an impact on the way a reader feels as they progress through your writing. Check at the adjectives and words you use to describe things. Do they make sense? Do they set the mood?
- Think about what the reader will feel as they proceed through the piece. If you think someone will find a particular part sad, think about placement. You want the reader to be able to make sense of the words they’re reading without any jarring mood switches.
- Test your goal. If you’re trying to make someone laugh, have other people read it and tell you if it’s funny. An outside opinion can help point out what’s good and where things fall flat.
The tone your writing will have heavily depends on the goals you set, so think carefully about what you’re trying to achieve. It takes time to learn to write in different styles, so think about reading other work structured to what you’re trying to achieve.
Are you ready to start writing?
Now that you know how to critically think about you’re writing, it’s time to start applying this information to your own work. Start writing and using your awesome new skills to help proofread your soon-to-be-amazing work!