Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ideas vs Writing

A friend recently commented on my livejournal that she's envious of me because of my blog entries and my writing (of course she knew me even before I was blogging so there's something to compare: a total zero to something [whether you consider my blogging good or bad writing]). Personally, I'm baffled as I want her to be more specific (because I honestly cover a lot of topics in this blog) because to me, I think people fall in love with blogs and writing in general for one of two reasons: the writing and the ideas behind them.

Wait, isn't writing and ideas part of the same package? Yes, they are. And I think the best writers are those who excel in both. But I think there's also room to differentiate between the two, so to speak. I believe there are good writers out there who excel in one of the two and put up a "good enough" talent in the other.

For example, I associate good writing with eloquence and charisma. You might not be saying anything new but you write it in such a way that readers simply fall in love with you, that's good writing per se. People might describe you as "reading poetry from prose" or "flowery words" or something similar. In Philosophy, we say that everyone philosophizes, it's just that not everyone is able to elucidate their thoughts or describe what they think or feel clearly. This ability to translate and make it understandable to other people, I call this good writing.

Then there's ideas. Ideas aren't limited to sci-fi novels or short stories. They can be something as seemingly simple as "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" to "All I Really Needed to Know, I Learned in Kindergarten". It's our epiphanies, our challenges to the status quo, our thoughts on some matter. What attracts people to your writing so to speak isn't necessarily your technical skill in writing but in your opinions and point of view. It's the idea.

Don't get me wrong--you need both to come up with something readable. An idea without good writing isn't a story, it's just an idea. Similarly, good writing without an idea is just a couple of beautiful phrases. It might pass for poetry but it lacks a central "core". So you need both.

Some people, however, aren't those great writers who gets A's in both fields. One might have an A+ in writing and just a B in ideas. Personally, I think I'm more of an idea guy rather than a writing guy (and some would say that's where most of my stories lead to--the central idea rather than the characters or the story). Which is what I'm wondering when my friend praised me: does she love me for my writing or for my ideas?

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