You can learn a lot from a successful writer. Like what? Well, consider this from well-known journalist and author Henry Hazlitt. “The reader who seeks to write well and think well should aim first at the essential qualities of coherence, clarity, precision, simplicity, and brevity.” Notice that he says these five essential qualities are not just for those who want to write well but also for those who want to think well. He has, in effect, attached writing and thinking at the hip.
What we speak with our mouths is the same thing that we would write with a pen because they both originate in our thoughts. Therefore, we can rightly deduce that becoming a successful thinker would immediately precede becoming a successful writer or speaker. Without an excess of words, suffice it to say then that the mastery of thought immediately precedes the mastery of speech or writing. Christ confirms the validity of this.“A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45).
Hazlitt’s five basic points of coherence, clarity, precision, simplicity, and brevity are embodied in the mastery of thought and are, in principle, supported in God’s word.
Coherence is the quality of being logical or consistent in our thoughts. Coherent thought can only be achieved with a mental foundation, and that foundation is the mind of Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote,“Casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5).
Clarity and precision share a similar meaning. Clarity is the quality of being crystal clear concerning our purpose in life based on biblical truth. Precision is the quality of being exact and accurate in our thought process. Christ spoke to how these two qualities help us to properly navigate our way through life. “Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:14). Clarity and precision point all our thoughts straight back to the pathway, which is our purpose.
Simplicity is the quality of being easily understood. A humble mind is one that produces thoughts and, therefore, words that are easy to understand. Such thoughts and words can have a powerful impact on others. “But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head — Christ” (Ephesians 4:15).
Brevity is the concise or exact use of godly thought as it produces our speech. Brevity helps us to utilize the most powerful or meaningful words in any circumstance that point to the bottom line, which is God’s truth in any matter. We could point to Solomon as an example of this. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all” (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Hazlitt’s points, applied from a spiritual perspective, can and will make us all successful writers!
Hence, these inspiring words, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2).