Three Purposes for Writing (and Why You Should Know Them!)

When we write, our purpose for writing falls into one of three categories. Let’s look at what those are.

3 purposesfor writing

Three Purposes in Brief

  1. Entertain – This means that, for the most part, we’re writing for the sake of writing. The only goal is to give our audience something to enjoy. Perhaps it is in the form of an anecdotal story about our day or experience at the beach. Maybe we’re being funny and talking about how hard it is to take multiple kids to the pool (um, am I speaking from experience?). Or maybe we’re just telling the story of one of our children’s birth. The goal of this type of writing is to create vivid stories.
  2. Inform – A piece of writing that informs offers exactly what you’re thinking: information. It may come in the form of a how-to post, a list post, a guide to something. You’re offering tidbits of knowledge to your readers. The goal here is to simply provide your readers with help for completing a task or becoming better at something. (This post would count as INFORM.) Usually, an Inform piece would not necessarily have any other goal — although it could.
  3. Persuade – You’ve seen plenty of these posts before. The goal of a Persuade piece is to get your audience to think a certain way, agree with you, do something. This purpose has a closely related cousin: the argument. In fact, these two types of writing are so close they are often confused. You see these types of posts all the time: vote for this candidate, try this product, stop behaving in this way.

Why do they matter?

When you are writing a blog post, an essay, a letter — basically anything — you want to be sure you’re using the most effective means to deliver that content. Consider this: how successful would your piece on “Why you should never eat squirrels” be if you only listed your personal opinion? You might feel like it had tons of great information, but chances are folks would see your post, start to read it, realize it had no meat (pun intended), and navigate away from your page.

It’s also imperative that you know your purpose so you can correctly address your audience. Your audience carries with them a certain level of understanding (or context) about the topic you’re discussing. Knowing the proper characteristics and effective elements of each of the purposes of writing will strengthen your writing and reach your audience in a much more productive way.

If you are unfamiliar with these characteristics, you’ve reached the right spot.

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(This post first appeared on Cluttered Genius, a parenting and lifestyle blog.)

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