How to Use Socratic Questions to Write Your Article Like a Pro
The 3 step process that would help you polish your writing piece
I have been a proponent of the Socratic questioning since I discovered the concept while studying CBT or Cognitive Behavior Therapy in my psychology classes.
The Socratic questions are considered to be the pillars of the CBT technique. As the name suggests, it involves creating a dialogue with the client with the aim of making the client aware of the irrational beliefs that they might be holding onto.
According to an article, it comes from the ideas of Socrates, who “believed that disciplined practice of thoughtful questioning enabled the student to examine ideas logically and to determine the validity of those ideas.”
An example could be that the person might think that nobody loves them and such a strongly held thought might be causing them distress.
To help the client deal with such irrational thoughts, the therapist would ask questions where he would aid the client to assess the validity of these emotionally painful thoughts.
I never thought that Socratic questions could be used for anything other than therapy. My vision for the technique remained limited to psychological usage. I even started using it to deal with the anxiety stemming from my attachment style.
However, recently, I decided that I would use the same technique for my creative articles and non-fiction essays. In order to edit and refine the quality of my articles, I formulated a 3 step plan to follow. To my surprise, it worked well. At the end of the process, my article turned out to be clearer, better polished, and gleaming bright.
Step 1: Write a draft
This is the easiest step. All you need to do is generate an idea, set a timeframe, and start typing away on your keyboard. You do not need to worry too much about the quality. The aim of the initial stage is to just have an article ready for further work. In the end, you would be left with an unrefined piece of writing on your screen.
Step 2: Question yourself (and your article)
This is the most important and time-consuming stage. Once you have a rough draft in your hands, go over it once briefly. After that, ask yourself these questions. Based on the content of your article, you need to modify a few words in the questions.
What did you get the idea from? What caused you to feel that way? Can you explain the origin of the idea in your writing?
Questions for clarification
What is the main topic that you're talking about? What do you mean by that? Could you explain the point in a better manner? Would anyone else be able to understand this point?
Questions that probe assumptions
When you are saying this, what evidences are supporting the statement?
Reason and evidence questions
Why do you think this is true? Is there any example that can suit the claim? What other information do you need to make your point clearer?
Alternative viewpoints questions
Is this the only way to look at the topic? If there is an alternative viewpoint, have you talked about it and mentioned why it has not been chosen? What is the other side of the argument?
Questions that probe implications and consequences
How can your topic/article affect someone? What is the long-term implication of your writing on other people and the larger systems?
Step 3: Now, edit away
Based on the answers you would be giving (you can also choose to write the answers down), you have to go through the article again, however, this time delete and add based on your answers. You would see that the questions-based reflection would allow you to have a clear picture in your head and the process of editing would come out easily.
Socratic questions are an excellent tool for self-reflection. They allow the user to unravel their own deeply-held values and beliefs that are shaping their perspective of the world and in this case, the article. By going over these 3 steps, you would see that your writing and the editing process would flow much easier.
This would allow you to see what is missing and what could be elaborated on in your writing piece. This way you can see the other side of the perspective that you are writing with. As a result, the final product would be a refined and comprehensive version of what you actually started with.