Friday, April 08, 2005

Watch Jay Learn

William Zinnser's book On Writing Well is a well-written book on writing well, so well written that I remember the great time I had devouring it some twenty years ago. In a chapter about editing and polishing one's words, Zinnser shows a page of his own work, marked-up with self-imposed rearrangements, deletions, and word changes. Instead of reading about Zinner's writing, I was looking at the real deal.

Looking over Zinnser's shoulder at that single page changed the way I write. If he can go over such picky little nits, so can I. If he can edit an essay half a dozen times, so can I. If this is part of the drill for writing, I'll do it myself. And now I do.

We don't get the opportunity to look over many people's shoulders as they work, somehow preferring to deal with a description of the thing rather than the thing itself. So I'm going to look over a few shoulders for you, starting with my own.

thnking3A book on learning, something that takes place in our heads, needs a model of how the brain works. I decided to think about that while walking in a park above the City of Oakland.

The park is the on the grounds of what was once the estate of Joaquin Miller, a colorful local essayist and poet whose wild west sagas once charmed the British Royal Family.

Walking is my exercise; it's hilly enough here that a steady pace and swinging arms are enough to get the heart muscle in the zone. After forty-five minutes, I sat at a picnic table with my notebook to reflect on my thoughts.

thinking2 thinking1

This is typical for me: fragments of ideas, chains of thoughts, doodles, maps, connections, and scribbles. My writing tool of choice is a Waterman fountain pen, although it makes me sloppy. The 5" x 7" notebook is unlined. Drawing helps me think. The only time I'm without a notebook at hand is when I'm taking a shower.

My next step is to reflect and then convert the ideas into words and images on the computer.

In this case, the first draft result is here.

Comments: Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?