Challenge Journal: Brain Dump Ritual

My ultimate writing ritual, which I am employing right now, is that I write in minuscule font when creating my first draft. For me, the hardest thing about writing is getting started. How will I begin this life changing research paper about the role of amateur sports in our society? The first draft is the hardest. The challenge is not not having an idea or not knowing what to say, it’s about how to go about correctly articulating it. So for me, it is easier to write without thinking about what I’m writing and go back to it later for editing. By typing in a size six font, single spaced, with dimmed lighting on the screen it is nearly impossible for my bad vision to see what is on the page, and much easier to just keep going, rather than preoccupy myself with judgmental, evaluating thoughts. Naturally, this leads to very sloppy drafts with lots of repetition, spelling mistakes and grammar errors. However, once everything is out there laying on the page, vulnerable to revision, it is much easier to produce a good piece of work than be worrying from the getco how the writing will turn out.

Another perk of this ritual is that once you expand the font you instantly are almost at the page minimum. To me, page requirements are incredibly distracting. Therefore, if I am actively aware of how much I am writing and trying to stretch it to reach this arbitrary threshold, I am not doing my best writing. I am dissecting apostrophes and contractions, not backing up points. When writing to reach a minimum the writers’ focus shifts from developing the argument to elongating sentences. This realization ultimately caused this ritual, and since I’ve begun it has lasted me three years now. It first began when I was confused about what to write about for my Arab-Israeli Conflict final paper. I decided my first draft should take the form of a brain dump and that it would not be a perfect 12-page paper to begin with. This ritual has helped me when many long drafts seem unattainable and giant.

One thought to “Challenge Journal: Brain Dump Ritual”

  1. Hey Lainey,
    I think this a really creative approach to starting a paper. It’s a ritual that has a clear a purpose, despite it being a kind of hectic practice. It’s also pretty strategic in that you know the small font will expand to fill up more pages at the end. I think I may borrow from this idea, because I feel like I do a form of it (I spit a lot of stuff onto a page to get started), but I don’t dump it all out blindly. That’s where you take it a step further. I almost imagine you’re not even looking at the screen and just letting your brain tell your fingers to tap crazily on the keyboard. It’s so interesting… But one question: Do you think that this dumping technique can lead to TOO much information on a page– too much in the sense that you don’t know where to go with some of the ideas, because they’re pulling you in all sorts of directions?

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