Archive for December, 2011

Thinking Writer II

Writing and thinking go hand-in-hand; one does not come before the other. On the contrary, they are like partners and each serves the other. Writing is an exercise that enables you to find out what you are thinking, and at the same time, your thinking plays the role of shaping your writing and defining its content. William Zinsser, an American writer, editor and teacher, puts it simply: “Writing is thinking on paper.” I couldn’t agree more!

Remember in school how it was so important to write notes in class, even though sometimes it felt easier to just sit and listen without writing? It’s because writing serves as reserve storage for what you have imbibed into your memory in the course of learning. The process of writing ensures that important points stick onto your memory and not only that, they become clearer. Noting down things on a piece of paper or notebook has always been known to aid memory.

Think of writing as a complimentary resource to your brain that facilitates deeper thought and helps clarify what is already brewing in the subconscious.

My writing mentor teaches that writing is basically a journey that has to begin somewhere but can end anywhere. This happens often when searching for some material to write about; you begin with one thought then as you continue writing, different ideas linked to the one you started with begin to pop up and look more promising. For instance, if I look outside my window now I see a large avocado tree with big leaves. I may begin to describe the tree physically but when I get to describing its fruit I realize there is more to write about the avocado itself. In the process of describing the avocado, I remember its health and nutritional values and finally that becomes my topic. In this exercise my thinking and writing are aiding one another and contributing to the finished product, an essay on the benefits of eating avocado.

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Thinking Attitudes

Just because we were all born with brains does not mean we are all thinkers per se. Yes, we do think generally, to the extent that our brains function but what I’m talking about goes beyond the normal. It takes a certain kind of attitude in order to be productive in our thinking, which is the best fit for a good writer.

The following attributes, when consciously cultivated, will help your thinking be more productive:

(a) Be skeptical: Well, it’s not a very attractive attribute but I believe it is possible to be skeptical in a healthy way. It allows you to ask tough questions where other people would simply accept whatever is there. Healthy skepticism points you in the direction of further investigation of a new idea, concept or way of thinking. You are able to turn things around, inside-out, sideways and in every other direction in order to understand it better. At the end of the day you will find you have extended your original ideas and come up with new aspects that you can write about.

(b) Be analytical. This comes in handy when you are dealing with data that needs to be organized into specific format and/or summarized. This is an advantage when it comes to writing reports and some forms of technical writing like proposals.

(c) Curiosity – It may have killed the cat but certainly no writer will ever die from curiosity. Approach your subject with a desire to know more about it, other than what is available on the surface. For instance, if you are doing research on a specific topic you can read about it on the internet, books and magazines to get some understanding of it. However, you may come across data that requires confirmation of actual existence, and if you are curious enough, you will go out there to get it. You may choose to interview an expert or practitioner in that field or simply do an observation experiment.