The Neuroscience of Learning to Write
Writing allows one to share ideas, thoughts, and emotions. It is mostly a mental skill that is learned and sharpened with increased reading and writing efforts. Therefore, writing is a science as much as it is an art.
How we express ourselves, our choice of words, and the organization of sentences and paragraphs is the result of various neurocognitive mechanisms. This may explain why sometimes we struggle to make up a sentence while other times words come to us almost naturally, and we end up creating magic. Consequently, there is more to writing than just grammar and language.
Why does this matter?
While there are many reasons for writing, the most important one is to communicate. Usually, a good write-up allows readers to understand what we are communicating, connect with us, and view things from our perspective.
How do we achieve this?
By letting your readers know what it is you are writing about, you give them expectations of what lies ahead in a process called priming. Priming introduces the content in the text to the reader and provides a better understanding of the topic being discussed.
- The concept of recency
This principle holds that what is remembered the most is the last thing that was said. Any writer that wants their message to hit home needs to work with this. The text can mention the most important aspect at the end of a paragraph as opposed to the beginning or middle.
Through recency, the reader forms an opinion on the subject based on what was last mentioned. This message is usually held in the reader’s memory and reinforces the writer’s message.
- Employing the concept of cause and effect in your writing to create narratives
The concept of cause and effect creates a connection between various events in your text. This approach allows readers to better understand the information presented to them, and they can feel connected to the story. It gives room to make references, analyze the facts presented in the text and form an opinion or pronounce judgments.
- Carefully deliver bad news
Since nobody likes bad news, you are better off dropping the bad news in the first paragraph. The immediate action creates a cognitive bias in the reader that affects their attitude towards the rest of the text. When the reader is primed, they have an idea of what to expect.
The paragraph that holds the bad news should also prepare the reader for any information being delivered mid-paragraph. The close of the paragraph should be neutral but still manage the bad news.
It is imperative to keep the readers engaged throughout the text. Let the content flow and keep the language simple.