Writing as conversation


For a long time I thought of a lot of my writing as lectures, even sermons. Now I understand that most of my pieces are part of a conversation. Someone else reads it, thinks about it, and decides they agree with it or they don’t agree with it. Great. That is how it should be. Then my writing is part of a conversation, even though I can’t be there most of the time to respond.


It is good to be confident and to say what you think, but few people doubt the value of modesty – to voice your opinion and then to listen to what someone else has to say.

What you said or wrote may touch on some good points; it might be a good argument; it may compel someone to think about something they have never thought of, or to think about it in a different way. But the likelihood is very strong that you did not consider all sides of the story, that you didn’t cover all the angles. It is at this point that a reasonable person would realise that when you make a statement, or risk an argument, verbally or in writing, you make an attempt at dialogue rather than trying to convert the other person to your cult or ideology.

I thought of the example of Scott Adams’ blog, his interesting articles, and the contributions readers leave in the comments section which are sometimes equally interesting, but the reader might be taking an opposing position.

I also thought about the conversations I have with adult students. I will make a statement, which I would think is more or less accurate. After making the statement I will step back, and the students will respond one after another – some of the responses are clever, others not so much. Whether or not my original statement was accurate is certainly important, but not as important as the fact that we are having a conversation on a particular topic. This, in my opinion, is much more valuable than any lecture or sermon I can attempt to give.