Write. Then Think.

Every idea is half-baked until it is put down on paper.  That, at least, is the opinion of Lynn Hunt in her article “How Writing Leads to Thinking.”

The truth is, Hunt is right.  How often do we find ourself loosened up and ready to go, a hundred times more eloquent and imaginative after writing just one sentence?  It happens all the time.  In fact, an idea that had been sloshing about in my head is solidifying, becoming something meaningful as I write right now.  Hunt says it best when she states “writing crystallizes previously half-formulated or unformulated thoughts.”  When we write, we make something useful out of the jumble of facts and information we have stored in our heads.  We find connections between points and begin to see ways that we can direct our evidence towards insightful conclusions.  This writing is imperfect, and it requires revision, but it is something.  It brings our thoughts from chaos to order.

Writing helps us figure out what we want to say.  I would guess that this will be a recurring theme throughout the Minor in Writing—to write first, and think second.  There is always time to revise, but first we should get out what thoughts we can.  I have experienced, many times, those infuriating moments when an idea is ready to be expressed so elegantly, but then it slips away because I didn’t reach a pen quickly enough.  A separate but equally real occurrence is when I lose a line of brilliance out of fear that others will think contemptuously of it.  My hope is that during both this course and the Minor in Writing as a whole, I will learn to write unashamedly.  I will not miss opportunities for greatness because I am too lazy or afraid to get to the computer.  I will put down ideas even when they seem silly or incoherent, because they might lead to an evocative or profound realization.  I will write because if I don’t, I might lose out on something beautiful.

2 thoughts to “Write. Then Think.”

  1. Hi Michael! I had similar thoughts when reading Hunt’s piece on writing. One of my goals for the Minor in Writing is to be able to find the momentum to keep writing and writing and even rewriting. I think what you were saying about writing first and thinking second is really important to every student who wants to grow throughout their time in the MiW. It is important to just let a thought flow out of your head unabashedly, allowing it’s truth and beauty to reach the page before reason or doubt starts to flood your thoughts. One question I will ask you in regards to your mantra of write first, think second: What is your position on outlines? Do you use them? Or do you think they hinder your ability to write without pause?

  2. Hi Mike!

    Holy crap that was good. Your goal of learning to write unashamedly really resonated with me. I think you’re setting yourself up for some amazing writing to come if you keep this goal in mind because it’ll definitely push you outside of the box. I also liked the point you made of “losing a line of brilliance out of fear.” This is a reality for a large number of people, not just in writing, but in life. Fear has kept me from writing or posting some things too. While you pursue your goal, I think a great thing to keep in mind is what Pinker said in his “Good Writing” chapter: writers write like they have something important to show. The Writing Minor is a great place to develop a habit of stretching yourself past limits and going for it!

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