The following quote is one answer to the question posed by the title of this post--
There is a marked advantage, a vested interest, in not writing well: what is clear is not profound; what is clear may be more easily challenged; what is clear gives itself away when it is a truism or platitude.
Here are four reasons that might explain a muddled writing style:
- We use complicated words not only to embellish our ideas, but also to hide their absence.
- As one commentator wrote, "We use difficult and therefore intimidating language to protect what we have from those who want a share of it: the power, prestige and privilege that comes with knowing what we know."
- We fall into the habit of conforming to accepted standards. Because we find muddled writing everywhere we look, we believe that it is the style of institutional success.
- No one has ever shown us how to edit syntactic confusion into clear prose.
Tomorrow: A few other problems that keep us from writing well.