Write to Change the Mind of the Reader

Larry McEnerney, Director of the University of Chicago’s Writing Program, gives a lecture on writing effectively. While the presentation is focused on academic writing, he provides great insight into how experts and professionals need to think about effective writing. There are many takeaways, but right up front, McEnerney hits on the first barrier to effective writing, “stop thinking about rules and start thinking about readers.”  Other valuable insights are:

  • “Experts use language in one set of patterns to do their thinking, but those very same experts read with a different pattern.” (@6:57)
  • “more than anything else, from now on your writing needs to be valuable, because if it is not that nothing else matters” (@13:43)
  • “What is professional writing? What is it? It’s not conveying your ideas to your readers, it’s changing their ideas. Nobody cares what ideas you have.” (@21:44)

The academic bent of the presentation is a small price you pay to better understand effective professional writing in general.