Subjectivity of Writing

Everybody knows how subjective writing is. What one person sees as good, another does not. Everybody prefers a different style of writing and they drift towards those pieces. But, then there are those pieces that everybody seems to like, and I guess that defines good writing, but I think that’s a part of why some people don’t like writing. They don’t like putting in the work and knowing that it might not fulfill the standards of someone else. I know I’m like that, but I’m getting better at not caring so much about it. It makes the writing process goes smoother.

I would argue that a lot of engineers do not like writing (there are exceptions of course), and a reason why (I think) they don’t is because they are immersed in the world of objectivity. When they step foot into subjectivity, they shy away from it because it’s not natural to them. With numbers, there’s a definite right or wrong whereas in writing, the line is more blurred. I’m in between these worlds of objectivity and subjectivity. Sometimes it’s hard to convey exactly what I mean and the weird part is that it seems unclear to someone else, but it feels clear to me. With numbers, I know that misinterpretation is less likely. Since ideas are not painstakingly obvious to the reader, it means that as the writer I have to be a better communicator and I know I am improving as a person even though it gets frustrating at times.

My friend said she doesn’t like writing because her papers aren’t “good.” What really defines good? One person’s opinion? Three people’s? People’s dislike of writing is tied to how good people think they are at it. I think it is not a good reason to dislike something, just because you’re not good at it. I’m not good at video games, but I still enjoy playing them. You don’t have to be good at something to like it. I know people want to succeed at what they’re doing, but they should write even if they’re not that “successful.” As the writer, a person controls part of the definition of success.

Because there’s this subjectivity in writing, writers need to be more conscious of their audience because everybody has certain preferences. Writing is a more conscious effort than say plugging in numbers in a calculator (nothing against numbers people!). When I’m working on a paper, there are times when it feels like I am always thinking about it. I’ll be in the middle of something and I’ll think “I don’t like this wording” or “What more can I add?” The writing process is always there even hidden in the subconscious.

Some people might view subjectivity as not the best or their favorite thing in the world, but it adds a little zing to life. It’s because of subjectivity that people refine and develop their taste. It’s how they know what they like and don’t like. It affects writing because readers learn what styles of writings they like which means they can write with that style in mind. Writers craft some of the style and exquisiteness in life.

Melody Ng

Melody is currently a senior studying business.

3 thoughts to “Subjectivity of Writing”

  1. Hey Melody,

    I really enjoyed your post!
    I’ve actually thought about this as well, and I definitely agree that people shouldn’t dislike something just because they aren’t good at it. But with the subjectivity, while I agree with you, the reality is that having a standard for something is easier to deal with. One reason why I love writing is that even if it is subjective, there are a couple of rules or standards that people consider as important or considered to be good writing. If you write a story and most of your sentences are incomplete, someone can tell you that its wrong. But sometimes, there are subjective things like drawing or creating music that are so subjective that you start to wonder if what you are doing is even right. For example, I’ve had artist friends tell me that they can turn in a blank canvas as a project so long as they explain the significance of it. To me, that sounds a bit too abstract and subjective. Now as you said, it shouldn’t be about whether you’re successful or not, but sometimes (or I could say all the time) people like being told that their good at something. And a lot of times, that only happens when there is a standard for what is “good”.

  2. Melody,
    I related a lot to your post. I have always enjoyed math because it isn’t subjective. In High School, when people would ask me why math was my favorite subject, I would tell them because there is a right answer and a wrong answer, no in between. But what is strange is that I like writing for the completely opposite reason: there is no right or wrong thing to write about! I think this is similar to what you were getting at when you said you were somewhere in between subjectivity and objectivity. (If I remember correctly, you are majoring in Business, so I am assuming you are a numbers person, too.)
    I agree with what you have to say about defining “good” writing. Everyone in our class is good at writing, but we all have different styles. That is what I love about writing: there is no formula! But, I can see why that can be very intimidating to some people. If there is no real definition of “good” writing, there is bound to be someone who dislikes your writing. But I don’t think one person’s opinion makes a piece “bad.”

  3. Melody,

    I think that this post is really a great way to sort of introduce your website. Your repurposing project deals a lot with advice to college students in the job market world, and this offers a way to see writing as something that can be enjoyed by everyone. Engineers might be best at code because it is concrete, but the subjectivity in writing is what offers the freedom and real fun in writing.

    Furthermore, in your repurposing project, you talk about working in an environment that might be intimidating because of the diversity. I agree that writing, taking on a task that might not be comfortable, will also make a person more marketable and well-experienced.

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