Most people think of writing as a solitary activity – something you do alone in a quiet place, away from people. Effective writing, however, tends to go beyond being a solo act, involving elements that define it as a social activity.
With very few exceptions, writing is actually a very social act. Sure, composing a diary entry or writing a grocery list are both very solitary undertakings, but they’re a small part of the actual writing we tend to do. When you write an email to a colleague, you look to convey a message to that person; when you write an essay, you normally have a specific type of reader in mind; when you write a letter of complaint, you’re looking to address your grievances towards somebody. Those three are examples of actual social interactions.
Many types of writing are driven by the author’s concerns about the people who will read it, carefully taking into account of how they can best understand what’s being communicated, as well as their possible reactions . I mean, we even go so far as to use writing improvement programs just to make sure readers can get our points. Because of this, it’s just not possible to treat writing as an activity shielded from the world – the social aspect is just too important to ignore.
The social relationship doesn’t end with the author, either. Many readers often take the author into account when trying to understand what a piece of writing means.