A Philosophy of Writing
|1. Writing is learned primarily by means of writing. Talking about writing is
useful, and reading about writing can be helpful. But, the real work of
writing is accomplished only by actually doing the writing itself.
|2.. Writing is essentially revising. Revision is not a punishment for doing
something wrong. It is a way to do something right. It is a
necessary part of writing. Revision is inevitable, inescapable,
ineluctable. And this is true for all writers--Tolstoy and T.S.
Eliot, Virgil and Virginia Woolf, Dickens, Dickinson, and Didion, you, me,
friends, and foes.
|3. Revising is not editing, not a mere correcting of spelling, mechanics, or
punctuation. Revising, instead is rethinking, re-envisioning,
reimagining, reorganizing, reshaping--that is, truly renovating the
original writing, bringing it to a renewed life in a reformed and reformulated
|4. Writing grows out of reading and is intimately, inextricably entwined with
it. Reading and writing are allies, helpmates, synergistic, energizers of
one another. They belong together, married not divorced.
|5. Writing, in fact, is thinkingówith pen or pencil or keyboard. And
further, writing produces thinking, prompts, encourages, stimulates, and
supports it. If you want to think--write.
|6. Reading, writing, and thinking are habits of mind, not mere mechanical
skills. You can diagram their interrelationship as a circle moving
continuously from one to another to the other. You can also diagram
their interconnectedness as a triangle with arrows linking each aspect of
mind to the others. Or You can visualize their relationships in
still other ways.
|7. Writing (and reading and thinking) involves more than the logical, the
rational, the intellectual. Writing (and reading and thinking) also
involves feeling, emotion. In fact, some would argue (Wordsworth
among them) that all our important thinking originates in feeling.
Others, Donne among them, would suggest that, like body and soul, mind and
heart, thought and feeling are completing aspects of one another.
|8. Good writing depends on the reciprocity between image and idea, abstract
and concrete, general and specific, point and support, idea and evidence.
Good writing is informed by experience and authority as well as by reading
and thinking. It also requires disciplined work and imaginative
play, and results sometimes in agony, sometimes in ecstasy.