Because Good Writing, I have since figured out, should probably be a little hard. And that, I think, comes from a nuanced argument.

Everything I have ever written makes some sort of argument. And not just argument as the American Heritage Dictionary defines it:

ar·gu·ment – An angry discussion involving disagreement among the participants. 

Yes, my argumentative papers from political science courses make an explicit argument (that perhaps some would get angry at and discuss for or against based on the classic definition of the word), but my tonal choice in a creative writing piece is also an argument that contributes to the story or poem’s meaning; my selected evidence for a research paper also reflects an argument of what I think is most important to demonstrate an idea; my theses are sometimes explicitly arguments, but are sometimes hidden in the prose of my creative nonfiction. Among all of those styles of writing there is at least some form of an argument being made and supported and nuanced by my style, evidence, and structural choices.

So that “hard” part that I referred to earlier is making an argument more than just a rehashing of some basic idea. Good Writing ought to find a way to really say something. Good arguments involve a higher level of engagement with the topic being researched or explored. And that engagement can only happen for me if I go into a writing assignment with a general idea, but then use writing as a process of discovery.

Coming to the same conclusion as I had in my original thesis for that Great Books paper is a great example of how NOT to discover anything while writing.

To recap so far: Good Writing should be hard, because Good Writing should strive to make some sort of argument that pushes us all (writer and reader) to think deeper about the topic at hand.