April 13, 2011

For Posterity's Sake: An Update to an Old Post

As this post comes nearly two years since my previous one, I've long since assumed that this blog was officially defunct. Maybe it still is. I tweet and facebook and generally publicize my thoughts to the virtual world in 140 characters or fewer. Blogging is dead, anyway, isn't it?

But as I trudge through the final pages of my dissertation, I've again been thinking a lot about the writing process. Part of this has involved revising and updating my previously posted Thirteen Theses for the Writer. For posterity's sake, if no other, the shiny, new, 2011 version is below.

16 Theses for the Writer

1) Advanced thought in accessible prose. As often as possible.

2) Always write as if a larger audience - one that consists of intelligent non-specialists, especially a multidisciplinary group of people you know personally - will read what you've written. All explanations later deemed unnecessary can be edited out and will have served to bolster your knowledge and credibility.

3) Write about subjects that interest you. Truly.

4) How you feel about the writing, the subject, the audience, etc. will get embedded in your prose. So will how you feel when writing.

5) Beyond emotion, body matters: exercise increases blood flow to the brain, meditation stills the mind and facilitates focus, sleep restores both mind and body while promoting the most creative, human endeavor (dreaming), and so on. But the occasional glass of bourbon helps, too.

6) In three versions:
6.1) Be who you want to articulate. Then, write.
6.2) Ontology first. Composition second.
6.3) Compose your self first.

7) A writer's mantra:
Every day.
No matter what.
[Note: But you can define "every day" how you like. For me, it means 5 or 6 days a week]

8) If possible: Write First.
[This does not contradict number 6]

9) "Nulla dies sine linea" – Plinius

10) "Nulla dies sine linea - but there may well be weeks" – Walter Benjamin
But if you find yourself having gone weeks without writing, start writing.

11) Embrace a healthy obsession with both your subject material and writing about it.

12) Revision is generative. Even destruction, as Marx tells us, is a creative process.

13) Keep your scheduled writing time sacrosanct. Protect it from intruders, interlopers, and yourself.

14) Writing attracts inspiration; waiting prolongs its absence.

15) Rest and relaxation can be as useful for your work as work itself. Moreover, taking a long enough break from work will enable you to return to it as both a reader and a writer. [But if you find yourself having taken too much time off, see number 10]

16) No single approach to writing is 100% effective 100% of the time. Switch it up as often as necessary.

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