I’ve been posting for a few weeks now on the challenges facing authors. By far the biggest single challenge is the invisible one. The way we think.
The problem is that we all think in simultaneous ideas – everything all at once, in effect. We think we’re being clear, as if material is written down in our minds – but it’s easy enough to show that it isn’t. How? Try writing the idea down.
If it was clear, like we perceive a conversation, you’d be able to blurt it out as fast as you could type, finished and complete. Sometimes – just sometimes – this happens. But not often.
The more usual process is one of iterations. First there’s the blank page, because you don’t know where to start. Then you get some phrases and sentences, but this one seems to work better there, or maybe there. And how does this fit in? And – and –
You get the picture. Even if you think you’re got a linear thread of ideas, the practical first expression of them reveals you don’t. That’s normal. It’s because we don’t think in written English. Some people don’t think in language at all – the ideas float in as shapes and patterns. But even the people who’re limited to words usually don’t have a written sequence in their minds.
What we are actually thinking of is the result of the writing – the emotional response, the intent and the aims of the material. It’s often expressed, mentally, in terms of phrases, words and ideas. But not in the order it needs to be. Nor is it complete, though we often have the illusion of it being complete because our mind fills the blanks.
And that’s entirely normal. It’s how humans think.
You’ll guess from this that I’ve put a lot of thought into figuring out how humans think, in order to write better – and you’d be right.
If we understand this, we discover the key to writing – to writing fast, to writing well. And it begins, as I’ve trunked about relentlessly in this blog, with planning. Planning down to the last detail, if necessary – though often that isn’t necessary.
To plan effectively, though, you need to understand how that melange of ideas, phrases, notions and concepts gets honed, teased, combed and otherwise bashed into shape when being written down. How do we go from the one point to the other?
It’s not easy – but if you can master it, you’ll have mastered what’s needed to write swiftly, effectively and with quality.
More next week.
Copyright © Matthew Wright 2014
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