This and That
Humor: Kid’s Test

Letter to the Editor: Writing Tools

Apparently I’m not the only writer who finds himself in surprising places. This from long-time contributor Stephen Coquet, who also mentions an interesting writing group:

First off, I'm a lousy typist. I can write cursive almost as fast as I type, but the typing is legible. I'm a member of a writing group called "Writing From the Heart", a moderated group from Amherst. (You could look it up)

Two Saturdays a month, we spend two and a half hours writing and talking about what we wrote. There is a page of prompts, which we use, reply to, or sometimes simply ignore. This was all preamble. Here's the meat: What I write often doesn't go where I expect, or even want it to go. If I write a poem, this is especially true. Sometimes the poem actually says the exact opposite of what I believe. So I have no problem at all with you saying that you don't always know the endpoint.

Sometimes I can't think of a thing to say. I have found that if I pick a random word and write it down, another will follow. And another, and another etc.

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Since we're on the subject, I am promoting Robert Malchman's comment on the same item to the status of "Letter to the Editor."

 

The word processor is, unquestionably, an unalloyed good for writing. Writing is thinking, and thinking is writing. The first draft should be everything in your brain, not an edited selection before it gets to the page/screen. It's much harder to add to a draft than to pare down -- it's sculpting marble from a block, not clay from a lump. If you make a mistake editing mentally, it's much harder to go back and fix it, than if you put something useless down on the page/screen. The latter will scream out at you on revision; the former can end up being a hunt for a needle in haystack of words.

I would tell my legal writing students, "Get everything out on the first draft. Don't worry about the page limit. Don't worry about being overinclusive of arguments, facts, authorities. Vomit it all out on to the screen, and then go around and clean it up. There is no good writing; there is only good rewriting, and the word processor is the greatest boon to rewriting, ever.

 

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