A Little Writing Lesson: 3 Questions

Think about your current writing project, especially if you’re at the proposal stage. When you compose any piece of writing, begin with these three questions that, if answered, greenlight the project:

Why this?

Why now?

Why me?

These questions tap into the rhetorical theory we’ve worked on in my class all semester:

Why this? helps shape the passion behind the writing, the emotional appeal (pathos) that creates urgency and a reason to read. Why are you writing this? What will happen if we don’t read this? What will we miss? It also presents the reason behind the argument (logos). What question will your writing answer and why must we answer it?

Why now? means we’re aware of the timeliness (kairos) of the writing and of the conversation happening around our ideas. Why write this now as opposed to later? Is this an outdated topic? Who is also talking about this topic right now? What current research or trends am I responding to?

Why me? invites the writer to consider his or her authority to write at all (ethos). What expertise might I draw upon? What authority do I have because of my experience and my unique history?

Try it out. Place your project to the test: Why this? Why me? Why now?

Why this? Why now? Why me? also works for deciding upon other projects, not just writing.

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