Is bad writing deliberate?

In a book called What's Left?, author Nick Cohen declares:

"Writers write badly when they have something to hide."

How bad can it be?

How bad can it be?

Is that usually true, I wonder? The statement assumes that the writer has a choice. In other words, that they are capable of writing well, but that they choose not to.

I don't think this is necessarily true.

I was reading a blog post the other day, and after reading one sentence 4 times I gave up trying to decode what the writer was trying to say. It wasn't a particularly complicated sentence. It's just that it had no verb, a strange structure and at least two words that seemed to be thewrong ones. Mind you, as I say, I couldn't fathom what he was trying to say anyway so they may well have been correct.

A couple of weeks ago I tried to read a blog, but gave up after reading the first sentence three times. It took up a paragraph, and contained about seven clauses, several unnecessarily long words and had a really ugly structure. Again, I just couldn't work out what the writer was trying to convey, except perhaps his erudition.

I know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so this is all very subjective. But the thing is, if someone is capable of writing nicely, why on earth would they choose not to?

Please note: the link to the book What's Left is an Amazon affiliate link.

You may find this post useful if you enjoyed reading this one: Check the readability of your writing.