Saturday, June 27, 2009

Peter Elbow and my Blue Post-Its

In my previous post I mentioned my new method of reading and my color coding sytem for my thoughts. As I glanced at the blue Post-it dominated first half of Writing Without Teachers, I decided I should post about some of the memorable quotes I've come across. Some of these jumped out at me because I saw myself in what he was saying, and others are passages that spoke to me in one way or another.

Pg 15: “Writing is, in fact, a transaction with words whereby you free yourself from what you presently think, feel, and perceive. You make available to yourself something better than what you’d be stuck with if you’d actually succeeded in making your meaning clear at the start.” This struck me because of the word free. It is an interesting concept that the words and thoughts are actually holding me captive until I can get them out of my head and down onto paper. Once they’re out, I can see them more clearly and better understand what they mean than if I tried to write fully formed thoughts from the beginning.

Pg 25: “’Trying to write well’ for most people means constantly stopping, pondering, and searching for better words. If this is true of you, then stop ‘trying to write well.’ Otherwise you will never write well.” I felt like he said, “Ashley Marie Leak, listen up right now!” because that’s exactly what I do. I am constantly looking for the most articulate way to say something as I write and I often lose the next thought I wanted to write about because I’m too worried about writing the current thought in the most effective way. I’m actually hurting my articulation because I’m forgetting and overshadowing some of the words and thoughts I want to write about in my attempt to make other thoughts more powerful the first time through(and only time through, usually).

Pg. 34: “You can encourage richness and chaos by encouraging digressions.” I think this quote should be on the wall of every writing/English teacher’s classroom. I digress so often, sometimes I lose my original train of thought and continue by making my digression my main point. I thought this meant that I have an unorganized mind (which is true) and that it is a bad thing, but Elbow has made me feel like I’m actually doing something right in my writing process. Now, if I can just train myself to continue writing about the digression and then reshaping my writing with a second draft instead of trying to change the entire first draft I'll be in good shape!

Pg 36: “If you refrain from doing it [writing] badly, you will never learn to do it at all.” It seems somewhat paradoxical, but it’s true. It’s difficult for me to write something when I know it’s crap. I feel like I’m wasting my time! But, what this book and Bird by Bird have make me realize is that even if only 1% of your first draft makes it to your final polished piece, it was necessary to write the crap in order to clear your head, get the thoughts out, and figure out what you want to say.

No comments: