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Several connections exist between critical thinking and writing, including content selection, information presentation, editing, reader assessment and stimulating additional thought and works. Often, writers and readers are not consciously aware of these links. People can be taught what these connections are, and may practice thinking critically as they work with writing. Experts agree that thinking critically while writing or reading typically does not come naturally and thus is somewhat of an acquired skill.
The first way critical thinking and writing connect is through content selection. When a person has to write something, he has to gather data, either from memory or through additional research. He must decide during this process what information is relevant to the writing topic, using specific criteria to rationalize about what to include.
Even when a person knows content is relevant, he must decide how to present the information. This involves thinking about what would be most logical and clear. It also goes well beyond basic rules of syntax, grammar and organization, however, taking into consideration a plethora of cultural constructs that might make a person's ideas or words come across differently than intended. Writers have to be aware of how they spin their works and what words they select. The fact that the "best" way to present information is subjective is what lets one writer be distinct from another, with different literary "voices" essentially being evidence of different paths of critical thinking and writing.
The editing process is another way critical thinking is related to writing. During this period of writing, a person has to think about what data is most important, isolating the most important elements in order to make cuts. Sometimes editing creates a need for new transitions or connections, so the writer has to brainstorm about ways to make one section flow easily into another once cuts are made. This process is imperative to precise, clean writing.
Critical thinking and writing connect through the reader's assessment, as well. As a person reads, he draws on his own knowledge and expertise to ascertain whether what the writer is saying makes sense, even if the ideas presented are somewhat fantastic. If it doesn't make sense, then the writer may lose credibility with the reader. Readers also may think about what caused the writing to be particularly persuasive or emotionally or cognitively stimulating. Readers use critical thinking to make some predictions about where the writer will go with the work, as well.
The last way writing and critical thinking link is through stimulation of additional creative thought. Each piece of writing has many smaller ideas, scenes or characters upon which a writer can expand. Once a person has completed a piece of writing or has finished reading, he can think about additional paths to take based on the original material. In this way, artistic writing yields more artistic writing.