The Nature of Writing


Writing is an important basic language skill that students should master in their language learning effort. Writing skill mastery is significantly helpful for learners in various educational and occupational tasks such as writing essays, writing thesis, business writing, international correspondence, presentation, etc. However, many writing teachers encountered difficulties in teaching writing due to its complexity. To cope with this problem, it is worth knowing what writing is, so the teachers can have enough information about it and be able to act based on this understanding.

This short article talks about the nature of writing skill and is hoped to help the teachers understand it well. Actually, this information should be published before my previous post about two important approaches in teaching writing but for some technical reason I post it later.

Let’s check it out and enjoy.

What is writing?

Writing is a medium of communication that represents language through the inscription of signs and symbols (Wikipedia). It is a complex process that involves mastery on almost all language levels; morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and discourse. In contrast to speaking, writing contains more elaborated linguistic systems, complex clauses, different syntax and vocabularies. Many experts, therefore, consider writing the barometer of one’s proficiency on a particular language. They also think that writing is the most difficult basic language skills due to its complexity and complete reliance on these language levels.

Writing skill emphasizes well-formedness. To produce a good writing, ones must have good metalinguistic knowledge, especially about grammar of a particular language. The writer must be aware of using this knowledge in his or her writing. Otherwise, his or her writing will be judged as the “trash” or “uneducated”.

The complete reliance on metalinguistic competence indicates that the rules of written discourse are largely learned through instruction and practice. They are not enough by merely acquiring language naturally like in speaking. Writing skill requires more formal instruction and practice, especially about the grammar and discourse.

Writing is a productive skill that urges the writer to carry out the meanings or messages in the written form. In the writing process, the writer tries to interact with the readers by exploring the ideas in the written form. The ideas usually contain the context, prior knowledge, and discourse. As writing is transactional and message-oriented, its goal must be to convey information accurately, effectively and appropriately. The writer must be able to express the ideas explicitly using the effective language and avoiding the ambiguous words. The writer must be aware that the readers cannot confirm the ideas being delivered to writer immediately as what they can do in speaking process. Therefore, it is the writer’s duty to make his writing clear enough before the readers.

Writing is a recursive activity that enables the writer hop from one step to another step and back to the previous one. The writer has the freer chance to modify his or her writing. All of us know that writer should plan the writing before revising it, but he has the chance to re-plan the writing after revision.


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