I know that the concept of good and bad is a technical term, but one that is progressively becoming lost in today’s society. Th dividing line is slowly becoming blurred, and has been for hundreds of years, but we do have an innate sense of what right and wrong is. How do you feel when someone hurts your feelings, when they mistreat you or talk bad about you, when they beat on you? We innately know that is wrong because we don’t want to be treated like that. Today, many people think they are an exception to the rules; however, standing firm on the rule, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you,” seems to be the safest rule to follow, and the one that will set you out from the crowd. It doesn’t take courage to be a “bad” writer, but it takes great courage to be a “good” writer.
Just for fun, let’s see what a “wrong” review looks like. We've been to a restaurant that didn't do a very good job servicing us:
“This restaurant is not even worth a grain of salt. The waiters are ugly and have horrible personalities. The food isn’t even good. I asked for the manager and he didn’t even say sorry or offer me anything for the food that was crap. People in this place don’t listen to you when you have something to say and it's obvious they hate their jobs. You can tell by how poorly they treat customers. Never waste your time, your money or your effort on this place! I will boycott all these restaurants for the rest of my life and you would do right to do the same! It's safe to put them out of business for the sake of our children!”
Now, anyone who has any compassion or understanding of the fallibility of human kind would know this review isn’t quite fair. What’s one main thing you notice that makes it “morally bad?” Perhaps because there is no factual information, just someone’s huff-and-puff. Or maybe them pressuring others to not even try it to see if they may like it themselves. The main thing about these angry words that makes it “wrong” is the lack of trying to reason or understand from the restaurant's point of view. Nowhere in there does it try to help the restaurant with a valid, factual and honest review. It’s not bad to tell a business its faults or when they do make mistakes, as long as it’s done in a kind, fair way.
Here’s the same review done in a more tactful and understanding way:
"I have eaten at this restaurant once. It was a bit dirty, but they seemed to be packed when I was there. My waiter came to my table twice during my visit to come check on me, so I was left without service for longer than I cared to be. One of the times she approached to see if I needed something, her demeanor was not pleasant, as if she was trying to get me to leave. She may have just been having a bad day, but she didn’t seem happy to be there and have people eating there. Perhaps hiring more employees or allowing more to work on the night shift will help employee morale in the future."
In this review, the person states facts, gives their opinion but makes it known it’s their opinion instead of stating opinion as fact with words like "perhaps" and "may have," etc. They tried to look through the waiter’s eyes and gave a suggestion, not a demand, to help better the experience next time.
Bad writing doesn’t allow you or other people around you to grow or learn. They will shut you out and you will have no impact, except for them to learn you are a rude person. It opens the door to someone’s bad day and they remember you in a bad way for the rest of their lives. Bad writing sets people up for failure. They can always look back over the negative words and feed their insecurities they’ve had like when their father abandoned them or their uncle beat them until they blacked out. These are all extremes, of course, but even the extremes could be possible cases with the least likely people. Be careful what negative or positive words you feed people.
Good writing keeps people intrigued and wanting more. You look up positive things, you’ll soon discover a positive atmosphere is addicting. You will want more and find yourself feeling better about yourself and others. Do you feel like you are making an impact? Start on the path of being an encourager and see the changes in the people around you, and in yourself. Share the love, even if it’s starting with just a smile to strangers who pass you by while you’re writing at Starbucks or reading a book in Barnes and Noble. Give it a try!
To Our Readers:
Now, I want to see your encouragement to others! Share with us in the comments about an impact someone's kind words left on you or kind words you shared with others!
Bad writing, as you could see, does nothing to help anyone. It’s only to gratify oneself. Instead of being negative and hateful, why not be a positive writer that leaves people with a good feeling that someone took the time to really care? Now, as hard as this may be to swallow, best results come when people write “good” writing. Let’s take a peek at when good writing shines through:
When it Uplifts and Inspires People
Imagine you open your eyes in the first light of the morning. You reach your arm over to the clock, look at the time and realize it is 8:20, and you were supposed to be at work by 8. You jump up, put mismatched clothes on, brush one tooth and leave the door cracked as you insert the key in your car's ignition, putting tread marks on your driveway as you speed off to work. Once you get there, your boss calls you into his office and almost fires you for being late 3 times in one week. He has no idea you’ve just had your mom move in with you at the beginning of the week because of her poor health and you’ve had two weeks’ worth of sleepless nights because you discovered your husband was cheating. When you’ve talked your way out of losing your job, you head back to your cubicle, push back tears and try with all your might to work on the project at hand. Suddenly, the mailwoman comes by your way, stops and stares at your red nose and swollen eyes. He places his hand on your back. She leans in, whispers, “It's OK to cry sometimes. Everyone has those days. We're here for you if you ever want to talk," then walks away.
Now, that little piece of encourage will go a long way after having as many setbacks as you’ve had, right? You want to soak it up like it’s your last few drops of water. It means more in those times of trouble. There is enough criticism going around among other people, as well as in your own thoughts about yourself. Isn’t it time for some positive thinking in the world? Yes!
Good writing is more of a “pay it forward” attitude. When you write to inspire or encourage someone, you are doing them a favor, and yourself a favor, because you will get encouraged for being an encouraging person. Life is much easier and happier when you know you are making a positive difference in someone’s life. Using writing to uplift someone not only affects yourself, but it affects others around you. Those who feel encouraged make life that much better. Sure, it’s easy to spread all the negative blunder out and about, but who is being helped from it? The people you bash in your reviews or your commentary? No one’s ears will be open to a naysayer’s words. Just think to yourself, How can I uplift someone today? Or perhaps you see someone down in the dumps from a bad day, think, How can I encourage him or her? Words used in encouragement to spread love instead of hate are never wasted.
When It Upholds Morals
I know what you’re thinking: What do morals have to do with it? I make my own morals. What right do you have to tell me right from wrong? Well, as hard as it may be to understand, we do have an innate ability to determine right from wrong. And, it’s also important to note that every action has a natural consequence society places on people. For example, if a person kills someone, our society knows that is an immoral act and there will be consequences. If a boy bullies another boy, we know that is not right, so we punish them. We as a society and a species have consequences that take place to enforce justice. Through basic, and often subtle, hints like these, we can find that moral balance.
There are all kinds of morals people can hold: being honest, keeping grades up, sexual purity, staying true to commitments and more. Most of it depends on what our conscience or religion says about morals. But, there are some basic principles on morality that we as humans understand, like kindness is good, and meanness is bad. So when writing to someone or about someone, being rude or mean is never a fun experience for the one being written about. Before posting or publishing something, ask basic questions, like:
1. Is this going to harm or help someone?
2. Am I writing this out of spite or anger?
3. How would this statement make me feel if roles were reversed?
4. Is my argument or opinion being backed up by facts?
5. How can I put a positive twist on my comment, or was there anything positive about my experience?
These are just a few questions you can ask yourself before posting or writing about something you had a bad experience with. The bottom line is if you aren’t trying to understand or show compassion towards others, you’ve used the “wrong” way to communicate. People shut down when being bashed. If you want them to open up, try to communicate with them calmly and kindly. That doesn’t mean you have to bend over backwards in niceness or go all around the point because getting to the point would be too direct. It means you need a firm, understanding perspective before you speak or write your thoughts. No amount of wrong gives anyone the right to harm another person, even though society’s selfish way of thinking has taught many people that. But, as an individual, you can change people’s lives one kind word at a time. Think of how many people you come into contact with in a day. Imagine being selflessly kind to every single one of them, no matter how bad your day or their day has been. We’d reach hundreds of people in a day, which would turn into thousands of people in a week, and millions of people in a year. Isn’t that worth some selflessness?
Having moral kindness in opinionated writing is up to you as a person. I don’t take responsibility or face consequences for your actions, you do. I am just here to encourage you to write "right" and show you what "right" writing looks like and why it's effective. I can guarantee you, someone responds better to a firm, compassionate answer than a harsh one that stirs up anger and trouble. So be careful the next time you are about to bash someone for believing something different than you or didn’t meet your (sometimes) impossible expectations. Be patient, breath and take a walk if you need to - anything to calm down before you write or speak words into existence that you can never take back.
Writing is something that has been around since the beginning of time. Researchers and archaeologists have found ancient scripts dating back to centuries. So, writing is something that never goes away, no matter how hard society tries. Once you’ve written something down, it’s there forever. So, be careful what you write about.
In the Introduction, we took a good look at what we should do in the moment of active selfishness and have defined each type of writing, so here is a more specific look at bad writing’s true characteristics:
Using Writing as a Forum to Vent
The way this form is most abused is through putting organizations or groups of people down. If you couldn’t tell, the news is rampant with people venting in today’s world, especially with this new election. But don’t worry, I’m not here to talk politics to you. The media does enough of that on its own. In fact, even Tim Ryan has a section in the Fox 4 Channel News called, “Tell it to Tim,” where people share lots of “got that off my chest” comments. Sometimes prudent silence is much wiser than some of the comments being made. Yet, venting and one comment are very different: one is a few lines long while the other can take up a whole page – even a whole book.
I understand the need to put up that negative review that bashes and hurts a company you hope goes out of business because the seller sold you a cheaply made product for three times the price and never returned your calls, and when they did, they yelled and screamed at you about it until you were red in the face. But, what good does it do if you just yell and scream right back at them. Sure, it feels good for a time, but remorse inevitably follows those unswallowable words. When you write about bad experiences, there is a tactful way to do it, without hurting anyone’s feelings. To be the bigger man and gain the “upper hand” is only accomplished through being wise enough to hold back the nasty words you wish you could express. If this has ever happened to you – first of all, I’d like to say I’m sorry on behalf of those who did that to you – but there is a considerate way to let a supervisor or higher authority know without blowing the roof off the situation. I do not believe the seller or employee should get away with the wrong they may have caused you, but you never know what their situation is. Maybe they just lost their sibling or spouse, or perhaps they can’t make rent and are fixing to get evicted from their home. Don’t assume you know their life, and play it safe by being nice in the midst of their bad attitude.
A man sits at the desk, his eyes wondering from one page to the next in a vain search for a job. It is day 76 and he’s not even catching a nibble of interest from anyone. After sending out 10 emails, making three times as many phone calls and going to at least two different places to check up on resumes, his wife comes home to find him sitting on the couch watching TV to rest his nervous brain and tired eyes. She slams the door on his way in, asking, “So you gonna sit there all day while I bring home the bacon?” No response. “I thought you would have found something by now. I need your help and all you do is sit there at the television and waste away your life, making mine ten times harder.” On and on she goes with tearing him down as a man, husband and even making personal remarks about his personal hygiene. She nagged him until dinnertime, which he was no longer hungry for.
There is good reason men do not appreciate nagging. No one does. Although, at times, people are not really being nagged, they just think they are. So, since there are so many “definitions” of the term, ‘nagging,’ let’s look at Merriam-Webster’s objective meaning of the word: “to irritate by constant scolding or urging.” Constant. Scolding. Nagging is one of life’s cruelest forms of communication strictly for its demeaning feeling that lingers after all is said.
When people nag, it’s usually face-to-face; however, people have been known to nag others through written form. Pulling someone down simply to irritate or annoy someone is not a means of writing – whether professionally or personally. Building one another up definitely provides more of an impact. Imagine this – how would you want someone to speak to you? Do you know all the facts of what’s going on with that person or group of people you are talking to? Be careful what you say, because you can’t take it back.
This blog series is geared more toward those who write other types of works that aren’t stories or poems. Stories are different beasts, because their nature is geared around objectivity or fiction, or nonfiction and fact. This message is geared more toward “opinional” writers. But, I hope incorporating some of these elements into a story, or in life, can help to be a guide in the right direction if it speaks to you as a story writer or as a person.
Believe it or not, there is such a thing as “good” and “bad” writing. Before we can go into their characteristics, I first want to define what I mean by “good” and “bad” writing. Anne Frank once said, “Everyone inside them has a piece of good news.” I personally believe that many people from generation to generation will one day need to hear the good news each one of us has to share. If we don’t share it, someone may miss out on a positive impact in their lives. I determine “good” writing as words that will place people in a positive mindset and bring encouragement. “Bad” writing is defined as negative criticism that is designed to harm rather than help someone. I believe criticism can be useful on a level that is intended to help someone, but there is a sense of professionalism and positive thread within said criticism that should be observed.
Admitting to mankind’s weakness, I will be the first to reveal the truth – it’s hard to be positive when you’ve had such a negative experience with someone or something. Most people find it hard to recall good memories or experiences over bad ones, but it is a lesson that will serve our lives and the lives of those around us very well. Being considerate of others is slowly becoming obsolete in today’s society – it’s all about “Me, me me!”
So, in order to take the step into selflessness, I usually have to do three things: Take a step back before my emotions get the better if me, think of what it is like in their shoes and how I would feel if the roles were reversed, then go against everything my “inner” self is shouting at me to do and do what’s right. The more often you follow this strategy, the lower the voice telling you to only think about yourself will become, until it’s almost second nature to you to be considerate. It means more work, but when you have compassion on mankind and think of others before you consider yourself, that extra mile will be worth it. Someone needs your bit of good news, and sometimes you have to look beyond your wants and wishes in order to spread the good news. This month, we will cover how to hone your skills in "good" writing.
FROM THE WRITER
This is a blog site where tips, information and other help is given to fellow writers in need of a brush up, a tip or a source. Comment, share or just enjoy!