Monday, April 22, 2013

Don't edit while writing? Another perspective

Recently, I did a presentation for faculty at my university on professors' relationship to "the written word." As part of my presentation, I gave a few tips on increasing productivity; really the kind of things that I have been writing about here. One of my tips, which I have written about before, is to not edit while you write.

Well, this tips was challenged by one of my colleagues. He believes that for him, editing while he is writing is a way of sharpening his thinking and his ideas. He believed that for some of the student that he has worked with, their main issues with writing are less technical and more about their ideas and thinking, so spending time crafting a careful sentence can help them develop their capacity for thinking. I may not be doing justice to his ideas fully, and probably am going to sit down for a chat with him to try to understand his process more.

For now at least, I am not sure that I agree, but I did want to share with you this alternative perspective. While it might work for him, he is also an accomplished scholar who has published a great deal. I like to think of it, perhaps, as a master artist who breaks the rules. A master artist has already mastered his or her craft; breaking the rules is a conscious decision for specific reasons.  The great abstract authors where usually classically trained; they broke rules for very specific aesthetic or philosophical reasons.

I think for most people, editing a line while you are still writing, while you still have ideas that need to come out, greatly slows the process. Of course, working on your writing and crafting each idea carefully is an essential part of the process; I just believe that for most people, doing so too early really can be more of a hindrance than a help.

1 comment:

  1. I totally agree with just getting ideas out, especially when the topic is new and the argument is far from coherent yet. I plan to reblog this post for my graduate capstone class for all the thesis writers.