June 22, 2011

Shortcuts to Good Writing, Part Four: Efficiency

Posted in shortcuts tagged , , , at 4:07 am by Rebecca Hein

There’s a controversy among cellists about bowing and tone production: should the horsehair be flat on the string or should the bow be tipped toward the player, leaving only a portion of the hair on the string? The underlying assumption is that sound is affected by how much horsehair rests on the string.

This may be valid, but far more important is how to position the bow so that it does most of the work. With maximum efficiency thus assured, most of your energy goes into playing rather than battling the laws of physics.

In writing, too, it’s possible to position yourself for maximum efficiency. Why struggle with flow when daily freewriting can take care of this? Why start your writing sessions scattered and distracted when a ten-minute warmup will settle your body and focus your mind? Why battle transitions when lack of practice is the underlying problem? For most difficulties in writing, there’s an easier way through than we first realize. The key is to get going, ignore the inner critic—or override it with more freewriting than you ever thought you could do—and open yourself to the unexpected.


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