As I read Moody Writing's post Words: The More the Muddier, I thought of my school days doing math word problems. (Ugh! How I hated them.)
Word problems do teach you a lot. You must read the problem carefully to determine the pertinent information needed to solve the problem.
Hey, I can relate this to writing! Let's see...
What I Learned from Word Problems:
1. Only include important information. Unlike word problems that might add extra tidbits to confuse the reader, writers should forgo the filler!
2. Drop nuggets of information throughout your writing. Word problems don't just give you the answer, they make you figure it out. Readers like to "discover" things as they go.
3. At the end, the writing should add up. There should be no loose ends.
4. Problems are good. Every piece of writing needs some sort of conflict and resolution.