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Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Art of Writing No 9
How do you leave your writing each day? Have you a tendency to writer’s block? In Zen and the Art of Motor Cycle Maintenance by Pirsig there is a great vignette in which a student is unable to write, set the task of describing a building. The teacher tells the student to focus on a wall, then a line of bricks, then a single brick. The student begins to write. You may have to develop your own rituals but here is advice I gave to my many PhD students.
Never leave your notebook or computer (whatever medium you use) at the end of a chapter, paragraph or even sentence if you feel that you are completing a train of thought. The full stop that you insert at this point is tantamount to inviting writer’s block if you suffer from it. Instead, leave your writing in the middle of a flow where you can be more or less certain that you can pick it up again and continue with the sentence and paragraph. For example, in the middle of a description of a person, scenery or an event. When you come back you can complete it easily and on you go. Our brains have what is to come all ready and waiting if they are given the right signposts on the route of travel.


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