How do writers identify their purpose?
We should always be aware of a purpose for our writing. Just saying “It’s because it was assigned” does not allow us to complete the assignment adequately. We have to consider the topic, and ultimately the thesis, of the essay, and why we might want to, or are required to, write about that topic.
The purpose for our writing essay may be foremost, such as to persuade others to understand a point-of-view on an issue, and possibly be convinced to change their minds on the issue. Then we have to decide whom we want to convince, which is where audience selection comes in.
On the other hand, we might have a topic, and even an audience, in mind. Then, if we are going to argue an issue, for example, we need to decide what we want to persuade this particular audience to think about this issue, which then defines our purpose for writing the essay.
We can see how much easier it is to write an essay for an assignment if we have an audience and purpose in mind beyond the fact that the instructor has assigned us to write an essay on a certain topic. We have motivation now, a group of individuals we are speaking directly to, and a purpose for doing so. We might be sharing an experience, so that our audience can learn as we did from that experience. We might be informing that audience of something they did not know before, increasing their knowledge. We might be persuading our audience to see a different point of view on an issue, or reinforcing a shared point-of-view.
So, we all need to remember as we begin the writing process that writing to a “blank wall,” just like talking to one, is pointless, and the pointlessness shows itself as an inferior essay.