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Myths about writing

I mentioned a while back that I was thinking about a series of posts on writing. But, why bother if someone else will do the job for you – and do it quite well. Peg Boyle Single has written the first two parts of a four-part series on writing. Here are the highlights so far.

In part 1 she debunks two prominent myths about writing:

  • Myth 1: Writing can only occur in large blocks of time. The truth – you need to write small chunks regularly. Develop a writing schedule.
  • Myth 2: Writing can wait until motivation washes over you. The truth – good writing requires discipline more than inspiration. (If you want to read more on this point, Stephen King’s On Writing is an excellent resource.)

Part 2 focuses on making two points:

  • Anyone who wants to be really good at something has to engage in “deliberative practice” – i.e. doing something every day for extended periods of time. She connects this to writing by arguing (again) for the importance of a regular writing routine. And, she cites some research suggesting that such deliberative practice actually has measurable cognitive benefits.
  • Good writers focus on global ideas rather than particular details. She argues (King is good on this point as well), that a good writer pays more attention to the overall shape of an argument and the ideas being expressed than on the particular words and sentences used to communicate those ideas. She suggests that this can be a good solution for all that latent perfectionism that drives us to spend way too much time trying to craft the perfect sentence.

I’ll pass along the next two once she’s written them.