Showing posts with label skills. Show all posts
Showing posts with label skills. Show all posts

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Exam Performance - diagnostic and tips

Have you recently received your exams results?

I have made a short list of some of the best tips that will help you to improve your exam results in the future. How many of these strategies DID you follow (or not) in your recent work?
  1. Employ short blocks of time for work.
  2. Develop a balanced workload between all subjects means variety.
  3. Select days off work for leisure.
  4. Write down a list of reasons to be motivated.
  5. Reward yourself for doing the hours planned.
  6. Starting to revise too late in the process.
  7. Don't just rely on your revision sessions run by your school or college.
  8. Summarize your notes.
  9. Create Mindmaps or other visualizations to aid recall.
  10. Devise your own mnemonics or memory games.
  11. Read and study past exam papers.
  12. Ensure that you know what the examiners are looking for.
  13. Practise timed answers and exercises.
  14. Draft model opening and closing paragraphs for essays.
  15. Learn 50 impressive new words to use in discussions and topics.
  16. Work with your teachers to explain what's not clear.
  17. Collaborate with friends by working in pairs or teams.
  18. Revise throughout the year, not just at the end! 
  19. Reduce stress by planning well-ahead.
  20. Good luck! Stay positive!
Further Information

Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences
(2013) Also available on Kindle, or to download.


He has recently published 11+ English (Primary to Secondary English Skills)
GCSE SOS

More advanced Students: The PhD Roadmap: A Guide to Successful Submission of your Dissertation / Thesis.

Dr Ian McCormick's other recent publications include chapters on Romanticism and Gothic Literature inThe English Literature Companion, edited by Julian Wolfreys  (London and New York: Palgrave Student Companions 2011).

His chapter on 'Teaching and Learning Strategies' was published as an Appendix to The Eighteenth-Century Literature Handbook, edited by Gary Day and Bridget Keegan (London and New York: Continuum, 2009). It is is available for free online (download the pdf) but you will need to complete a very straightforward and short registration.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

For and Against Memorizing Poetry





This petition was submitted during the 2010–2015 Conservative – Liberal Democrat coalition government; the deadline 30 March 2015. At the time is attracted only 366 signatures, despite being widely circulated as a link on social media.

Petition:

End of GCSE English Literature for All, 2017

GCSE English Literature from 2017 will require students to remember between 15 and 18 (depending on exam board) poems in an exam in order to 'closely analyse' them. Signatories ask government to consult with the English teaching community as to whether this is the fairest and most meaningful way of assessing students' understanding and appreciation of poetry. There has been no such consultation on this matter to date.


Meanwhile the learning of poetry for public recitation is increasingly popular. Moving beyond the controversial rote-learning for exams issue, this blog explores some of the advantages and disadvantages of learning poetry for public recitation.

Advantages:

  1. Typically, the student who successfully memorizes a poem will be offered a reward or a prize (often also a bribe). This motivates those who are successful to embark on greater challenges.

  1. Successfully memorizing a poem provides a sense of student competence, achievement and proficiency. An insurmountable obstacle has been overcome.

  1. Accordingly, learning a poem is a form of proficiency that is easy to mark and assess, with clear winners and losers.

  1. This is an opportunity to practise memory techniques, props and systems.

  1. The task involves a high degree of focus, repetition and concentration. These skills are undervalued in contemporary pedagogy.

  1. Rather than simply reading the poem from memory, this exercise affords an opportunity for performance and recitation skills. These express the life of the poem filtered through the idiosyncratic voice of the reciter.

  1. The public speaking is an opportunity to inhabit and express the rhythms and cadences of the poem, using soft and loud voices, and other techniques. This means feeling a poem, rather than just skimming over it on the page. As a result, the reciter gains a deep familiarity with the secrets of a poem, with the hints and undertones that are often missed on the page.

  1. This process affords an insight into the unity between reading and reciting, and between speaking and listening, demonstrating the fundamental inter-connectedness of the message and its delivery as effective communication.

  1. Wit and humour can be introduced by using tongue-twisters as poetic exercises. Or use short comic poems such as limericks or nonsense verse.

  1. Recitations can be collaborative: in this case, each student in a class learns just one line!

  1. Learn how poets provide memory clues by using repetition, assonance, rhythm and rhyme.

  1. This is a useful and deepening insight into the sonic and oral dimension of poetry.

  1. If a poem has been learned then it can be called back into being as you wait for a bus or walk through the countryside.

  1. A learned poem may stay with you for the rest of your life. Its value deepens and glows more brightly as time passes. For adults, there is a glorious joy in the poems that you learned in childhood and youth.

  1. Memorized poems provide touchstones in the mind. Favourite lines that linger in our consciousness become an aesthetic criterion and foundation for critical judgements.

  1. Classical rhetoric afforded a respected place to the arts of memory.

  1. This exercise will support essential speaking, debating and speech-making skills. These skills are essential for effective team-work and leadership roles.

  1. If you want to be a stage actor the arts of memory and recitation and will provide essential training.

  1. The learned memory skills will help you in your career as a singer or performance artist. This will appeal to young people who often express a preference for following the career choices of their idols.

Disadvantages

  1. A high proportion of poems have a textual and on-the-page quality. Since the invention of writing and print, the experience has been one of reading, not reciting. Poets write to be read.

  1. The emphasis on the orality of poetry has an old-fashioned, nostalgic quality. It is Homer rather than Virgil.Our world is essentially prosaic. Would anyone attempt to recite Henry James's Golden Bowl  from memory? (But without doubt it is fascinating to read Walter J. Ong on Orality and Literacy.)

  1. Rote-learning is an exercise based on the nineteenth-century classroom; it values memory and parrot-like repetition over creativity and critical discussion. It is a discipline for obedient and servile citizenship, rather than self-standing, self-aware individuals.

  1. Memorization is arduous and alienating; for the majority of students the outcome of this exercise will be a sense of failure to achieve. The experience of failure will be a scar, and lead to a perpetual resentment against poetry.

  1. Memory skills are over-rated in a world where anything can be looked up and located on the internet in a couple of clicks.

  1. Memorization is like doing all your math calculations by hand, rather than using a calculator.

  1. Exams already offer plenty of opportunity for students to demonstrate their capacity to use their memory. Why add to the anguish? And don't higher level exams value understanding over total recall?

  1. Modern speech making is less literary than that of the classical/humanist past; improvisation is to be preferred to rote learning that will appear forced, artificial and awkward.

  1. Is this really the most effective use of student work time?

     10. Total recall is a kind of slavery. Leave it to robots and to Hollywood fantasy.




Dr Ian McCormick is the author of The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences

(Quibble Academic, 2013)


Further Reading

"Many people in Great Britain and the United States can recall elderly relatives who remembered long stretches of verse learned at school decades earlier, yet most of us were never required to recite in class. Heart Beats is the first book to examine how poetry recitation came to assume a central place in past curricular programs, and to investigate when and why the once-mandatory exercise declined. Telling the story of a lost pedagogical practice and its wide-ranging effects on two sides of the Atlantic, Catherine Robson explores how recitation altered the ordinary people who committed poems to heart, and changed the worlds in which they lived. Heart Beats begins by investigating recitation's progress within British and American public educational systems over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and weighs the factors that influenced which poems were most frequently assigned. Robson then scrutinizes the recitational fortunes of three short works that were once classroom classics: Felicia Hemans's "Casabianca," Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard," and Charles Wolfe's "Burial of Sir John Moore after Corunna." To conclude, the book considers W. E. Henley's "Invictus" and Rudyard Kipling's "If--," asking why the idea of the memorized poem arouses such different responses in the United States and Great Britain today. Focusing on vital connections between poems, individuals, and their communities, Heart Beats is an important study of the history and power of memorized poetry." See Heart Beats: Everyday Life and the Memorized Poem by Catherine Robson (Princeton University Press 2012)

"What has happened to the lost art of memorising poetry? Why do we no longer feel that it is necessary to know the most enduring, beautiful poems in the English language 'by heart'? In his introduction Ted Hughes explains how we can overcome the problem by using a memory system that becomes easier the more frequently it is practised. The collected 101 poems are both personal favourites and particularly well-suited to the method Hughes demonstrates. Spanning four centuries, ranging from Shakespeare and Keats through to Auden and Heaney, By Heart offers the reader a 'mental gymnasium' in which the memory can be exercised and trained in the most pleasurable way. Some poems will be more of a challenge than others, but all will be treasured once they have become part of the memory bank." By Heart, By Ted Hughes (Faber 2012)

"The ancient Greeks, to whom a trained memory was of vital importance - as it was to everyone before the invention of printing - created an elaborate memory system, based on a technique of impressing 'places' and 'images' on the mind. Inherited and recorded by the Romans, this art of memory passed into the European tradition, to be revived, in occult form, at the Renaissance, and particularly by the strange and remarkable genius, Giordano Bruno. Such is the main theme of Frances Yates's unique and brilliant book, in the course of which she sheds light on such diverse subjects as Dante's Divine Comedy, the form of the Shakespearian theatre and the history of ancient architecture. Aside from its intrinsic fascination, The Art of Memory is an invaluable contribution to aesthetics and psychology, and to the history of philosophy, of science and of literature." The Art Of Memory, by Frances A Yates (Pimlico, 1992)

"Mary Carruthers's classic study of the training and uses of memory for a variety of purposes in European cultures during the Middle Ages has fundamentally changed the way scholars understand medieval culture. This fully revised and updated second edition considers afresh all the material and conclusions of the first. While responding to new directions in research inspired by the original, this new edition devotes much more attention to the role of trained memory in composition, whether of literature, music, architecture, or manuscript books. The new edition will reignite the debate on memory in medieval studies and, like the first, will be essential reading for scholars of history, music, the arts and literature, as well as those interested in issues of orality and literacy (anthropology), in the working and design of memory (both neuropsychology and artificial memory), and in the disciplines of meditation (religion)."  The Book of Memory: A Study of Memory in Medieval Culture (Cambridge Studies in Medieval Literature) by Mary Carruthers 

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

List of frequently used academic words







Have you heard of corpus linguistics

Corpus linguistics proposes that reliable language analysis is more feasible with corpora (samples) collected in the field, in their natural contexts, and with minimal experimental-interference.

How did it all start?


A landmark in modern corpus linguistics was Henry Kučera and W. Nelson Francis's Computational Analysis of Present-Day American English (1967).

This work was based on the analysis of the Brown Corpus, a carefully compiled selection of about a million words, drawn from a wide variety of sources in current  American English

How did technology help?

The first computerized corpus of one million words of transcribed spoken language was constructed in 1971 by the Montreal French Project. This effort inspired Shana Poplack's much larger corpus of spoken French in the Ottawa-Hull area

The analysis of academic writing shows that there are many 

frequently used words and phrases:

a form of   

a function of   

a high degree   

a large number   

a large number of   

a list of   

a number of   

a result of   

a series of   

a set of   

a small number   

a variety of   

a wide range   

a wide range of   

according to the   

allows us to   

an attempt to   

an example of   

an increase in the   

and so on   

and the same   

and the second   

appear to be    

appears to be   

are a number of   

are able to   

are as follows   

are based on   

are likely to   

as a consequence   

as a function   

as a function of   

as a result   

as a result of   

as a result of the   

as a whole   

as an example   

as can be seen   

as opposed to   

as part of   

as part of the   

as shown in   

as well as   

associated with the   

assume that the    

assumed to be   

at least in   

at the outset   

at the same    

at the same time   

at the time of   

at this stage 

   


based on a   

based on the   

be achieved by   

be argued that   

be carried out   

be considered as   

be explained by   

be noted that    

be regarded as   

be related to the   

be seen as   

be the case   

be used as a   

be used to   

because it is   

been carried out   

been shown to   

between the two   

both of these   

but this is   

by virtue of   

FREE BOOK AVAILABLE ONLINE: 

Statistics in Linguistics

Christopher Butler

http://www.uwe.ac.uk/hlss/llas/statistics-in-linguistics/bkindex.shtml













can also be   

can be achieved   

can be considered   

can be expressed   

can be found   

can be found in   

can be seen   

can be seen in   

can be used   

can be used to   

can easily be   

carried out by   

carried out in   

could be used   

degree to which   

depend on the   

depending on the   

depends on the   

difference between the   

different from the   

different types of   

does not appear   

due to the   

due to the fact   

due to the fact that   

each of the   

each of these   

even though the   

exactly the same   

example of a   

extent to which   

fact that the   

factors such as   

focus on the   

for example if   

for example in   

for example the   

for the purposes of   

for this purpose   

for this reason   

form of the   

from the point   

from the point of   

from the point of view   

function of the   

give rise to    


An enquiry into the role of satire and sense in academic life today:

The Graves of Academe

Would you recommend this book?



















has also been   

has been used   

have shown that   

have the same   

high levels of   

his or her   

if they are   

if this is   

important role in   

in a number of   

in accordance with   

in accordance with the   

in both cases   

in conjunction with   

in more detail   

in most cases   

in order to   

in other words   

in other words the   

in relation to   

in response to   

in some cases   

in such a   

in such a way   

in such a way that   

in table    

in terms of   

in terms of a   

in terms of the   

in the absence of   

in the case   

in the case of   

in the context   

in the context of   

in the course of   

in the form of   

in the next section   

in the present study   

in the same   

in the sense   

in the sense that   

in this article   

in this case   

in this case the   

in this paper   

in this paper we   

in this way   

insight into the   

is affected by   

is based on   

is based on the   

is consistent with   

is determined by   

is likely to   

is likely to be   

is more likely   

is much more   

is not possible to   

is the case   

it appears that   

it follows that   

it is clear   

it is clear that   

it is difficult   

it is important   

it is important to   

it is impossible   

it is impossible to   

it is interesting   

it is interesting to   

it is likely that   

it is necessary   

it is necessary to   

it is not possible   

it is not possible to   

it is obvious that   

it is possible   

it is possible that   

it is possible to   

it is worth   

it may be   

it should be noted   

large number of   

less likely to   

likely to be   

little or no   

means that the   

more likely to   

most likely to   

nature of the   

need not be   

needs to be    

none of these   

of the fact   

of the same   

of the second   

of the system   

of the two    

of these two   

of view of   

on the basis   

on the basis of   

on the basis of the   

on the other   

on the other hand   

on the other hand the   

on the part of   

other words the   

out that the   

over a period   

over a period of   

part of a   

part of the   

parts of the   

point of view   

point of view of   

referred to as   

related to the   

same way as   

see for example   

should also be   

should be noted   

should not be   

shown in figure   

shown in table   

similar to those   

size of the   

small number of   

so that the   

such a way   

such a way that   

such as the   

such as those   

take into account   

take into account the   

terms of the   

the ability to   

the amount of   

the area of   

the basis of   

the case of   

the change in   

the concept of   

the context of   

the definition of   

the development of   

the difference between   

the difference between the   

the distribution of   

the effect of   

the effects of   

the example of   

the existence of   

the extent to which   

the fact that   

the fact that the    

the first is   

the form of   

the frequency of   

the idea that   

the importance of   

the issue of   

the level of   

the meaning of   

the most important   

the nature of   

the nature of the   

the next section   

the notion of   

the number of   

the order of   

the other hand   

the other hand the   

the part of the   

the point of view   

the point of view of   

the presence of   

the presence of a   

the problem of   

the process of   

the purpose of this   

the question of   

the rate of   

the real world   

the reason for   

the relationship between   

the result of   

the role of   

the same as   

the same time   

the same way as   

the size of   

the size of the   

the structure of   

the study of   

the sum of   

the total number   

the use of   

the validity of the   

the value of   

the way in   

the way in which   

the way that   

the work of   

their ability to   

there are a number   

there are a number of   

there are no   

there are several   

there are three   

this means that   

this paper we   

this type of   

this would be   

to carry out   

to determine whether   

to distinguish between   

to do so   

to ensure that   

to ensure that the   

to show that   

to some extent   

to the fact that   

to use the   

total number of   

two types of   

value of the   

view of the   

was based on   

was carried out   

way in which   

ways in which   

we assume that   

we can see   

we do not   

we have seen   

what are the   

whether or not   

whether or not the   

which can be   

which is not   

which is the   

wide range of   

with regard to   

with respect to   

with respect to the   

with the same    

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Transition from School to University

University - anxiety or liberation ?


Dear Students,

Many of you will find the transition from school to university very difficult. In a previous blog I offered an impressionistic account of some of the main reasons why students don't have a successful first year and provided some practical tips. But what about the initial transition? How will university life be different from being at school and living at home? Below, I offer a five point plan for making a successful transition.

The first point to consider is that the intensive care you have probably experienced at home and at school will not be available with the same frequency at your college. Personal tutors and welfare staff will be available to help, but they won't be monitoring your health and well-being on a daily basis. Support services are widely available in all universities, but you will need to seek them out. If you have lived a sheltered life between your school and your bedroom the personal transition to full independence can come as a big shock.

The second point to consider is that your ability to direct your own studies will be crucial, especially if you are working in the arts or social sciences. Understand that academics typically have a 550 hours annual contract for direct teaching. For you, that works out at about 12-15 hours contact time in seminars, tutorials, and lectures. The rest of the time you'll be on your own, doing your reading, doing your research, drafting and writing your assignments. Don't expect you tutor to stand over you while you spend 40 hours reading George Eliot's Middlemarch or Charles Dickens's David Copperfield.

My third point is that you should take a more active role in seeking academic support if you feel that you need it. Most universities have an academic support department that is designed to help you develop academic-level skills. These support centres should be used to improve your general level of competence. Your academic tutors will provide more focussed and more specialised support. All tutors have open office hours. Use this time to drop in, or book and appointment to discuss the plans you have made for your first assignment. When you have had your work marked and returned seek out your tutor to discuss the feedback. Ensure that you have fully understood what you need to do to improve your grade next time. In my experience as few as 15% of students (usually the brightest and the weakest) make use of this opportunity.

Don't just take the easy option, which is typically to email your lecturer saying, 'I don't know what we're supposed to do for this assignment.' Usually, all the required information will be in the module or course handbook. It's so frustrating that hundreds of hours are spent writing the course materials that students have not bothered to read.

The fourth point is to recognise that the subject you learned at school is going to be different at university. There will be a higher level of theoretical approaches, for example, rather than just explaining why you enjoyed the characters and the story. There will be strong emphasis on research and on critical reading. Remember that your seminars and lectures are just the beginning of your work; they are merely a point of departure for your journey; they are not the be-all and end-all of your academic life. If you find that the course is not what you were expecting it is often possible to switch course or turn your major subject into a minor. However, it is essential to seek help and advice early. You will generally find that the university is more flexible than you imagined if it looks like you might be dropping out. Remember that universities have a vested interest in the improvement of retention rates.

The fifth point is to participate. This means socialising and making friends. This means joining clubs and societies, doing sport, or taking part in charity work.  All of this will build your character, make you more independent and crucially more employable. Academically, participation means interacting with other students in seminars, having prepared professionally for the activities involved.

A final point to consider, as an afterthought, is that university does not suit everyone. Nor does university life  suit everyone at the age of 18. Some of the best students I've ever taught were those who came to university later in life.

I guess some of this blog will sound like a harsh diatribe and rant against the molly-coddled student. I often reminded myself that my life at college was not as difficult as my father's - down the pit (coal mine) at the age of 15. Nor did I suffer the major social and economic disadvantges of the other six billion poor people on this planet.

I have some sympathy for those of you who feel that the £9000 fees are not worth it. Indeed, the fees are not worth it, but YOU are, and it's up to YOU to make the best of the brilliant career opportunity that university affords in the luxury of the first world.



Dr Ian McCormick is the author of  

The Art of Connection: the Social Life of Sentences (Quibble Academic, 2013) 

Also available on Kindle

Monday, 1 September 2014

Book Challenge



Time to take the Book Challenge. Please post comments and suggestion below, or use Twitter #bookchallenge

  1. Which book is most often stolen from a library?
  2. Is it possible to be poisoned by a book?
  3. How much did it cost to produce the world's most expensive book?
  4. What was Shakespeare's best insult?
  5. Who invented science fiction, or fantasy?
  6. When was the world's first novel written?
  7. What's the funniest moment in literature?
  8. Which book has the best opening line?
  9. What's the longest book ever written?
  10. Who is the world's best selling writer, alive or dead?
  11. Who is the most famous/infamous fictional woman to appear in a story?
  12. When was the first comic strip published?
  13. Who wrote the world's first romance?
  14. When was the world's first recipe book composed?
  15. Who was the world's most prolific author?
  16. Who invented young adult fiction?
  17. Which book has caused the most trouble?
  18. Who is the most liked/hated superhero? 
  19. Who was the world's slowest writer?
  20. Who is the most monstrous person in literature?
  21. Where will you find the world's biggest library?
  22. Who was the first black person to tell his/her story?
  23. What's the longest word to appear in a work of fiction?
  24. Is there a book that no one has ever finished reading?
  25. What's the most interesting lost book?
  26. What's the highest ever auction price for a printed book?
  27. What's the world record for writing a book in the shortest/longest time?
  28. What's the best nonsense word in a published work?
  29. What's the most famous anonymous work? 
  30. What's the most shocking fight in literture?
  31. Who is the oldest character in literature?
  32. What's the world's most tragic play?
  33. What's the world's most infamous literary hoax?
  34. Which books include talking objects?
  35. What's the most famous line in literature?
  36. What's the world's scariest book?
  37. Which book has the best ending?
  38. Are there any books that don't use punctuation?
  39. What was the first word ever written in a work of fiction?
  40. Who is the best-read person in history?
  41. Which book has been banned most often?
  42. Which book do you wish you had written yourself?
  43. Please write down three more questions which improve on the ones written above.


Dr Ian McCormick served as Professor in the Arts at the University of Northampton.

His most recent book is The Art of Connection. [Quibble Academic, 2013]





Friday, 27 June 2014

7 steps to Prolific, or more Productive Writing



Most writers and intrigued by the idea that they might be more productive. Some writers want to become prolific. Some writers, such as Shakespeare, were able to churn out two or more major works every year; others, such as Charles Dickens or Walter Scott, astonish us by the sheer quantity of their work.

I was surprised to discover recently that my writing notebook lists plans for 23 books. Clearly some of these projects are little more than a title and an outline. So the problem is not having ideas, it’s more a question of having the time, the discipline and the confidence to see them through to completion as published works. In short, I am now trying to increase my productivity by researching some of the recurring ideas typically adopted by successful writers.

While doing some research recently on translations of Aristophanes’ Lysistrata, I cam across the impressive productivity of JackLindsay, who produced 170 creative and non-fiction works during his long career.

But do you have to be a genius to be so prolific? Or is it more a case of responding efficiently and effectively to commercial deadlines?

1. The Necessity of Discipline.
“Rule your mind or it will rule you.” — Horace

Simply waiting for inspiration to drive your creative output is a highly risky strategy. Even the great romantic writers employed discipline. While it is essential to experience those fleeting moments of exuberant fancy and whimsical speculation, it is equally important to write them up in such a way that they will make sense at a later date. Your notebook is an essential tool for catching and capturing your creative flow.

2. The Benefits of Routine.
“I began to realize how simple life could be if one had a regular routine to follow with fixed hours, a fixed salary, and very little original thinking to do.” — Roald Dahl

Design and create your routine rather than following someone else’s plan. Some writers find that they work best early morning; others burn the midnight oil. Some writers need the silence of the monastery or the peace of the nunnery, while others prefer the bustle of a café or the rhythm of a train or bus journey. Some writers work for thirty minutes, others for three hours. My advise therefore is to experiment with different routines and note down which combination of space and time produces the best results.

3. Maps, structures, outlines
“Let our advance worrying become advance thinking and planning.” — Winston Churchill

Often there is a romantic sense that knowing your future direction at the outset will cramp your creativity; that writing becomes mechanical when it is strictly planned. On the other hand it is quite common to start projects with great enthusiasm but then to experience writer’s block in the more complex middle phases. Even worse, you may find that your work is fruitless because not matter how hard you try there is a lack of a suitable conclusion for your creative efforts. Radical uncertainty of this kind frequently leads to anxiety and paralysis. Moreover, there repeated experience of failure to complete leads to a weakening of your willpower and motivation in the medium term. By finishing projects your confidence grows and develops, allowing you to undertake more creative risks with a reduce chance of blockage or failure.

4. Speed Drafting
“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” — Henry David Thoreau

Having capture your key ideas and imposed a provisional structure it is now time to work in more detail. This means fleshing out your ideas and feelings. At this stage it is essential to write quickly and to avoid agonising over precise words and phrases. Don’t worry about writing the most astonishing and eye-catching first sentence; first paragraphs are often better written at the end of your writing phase.

5. Revisioning
“A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Writing typically moves from fleeting moments of inspiration to the discipline of the draft: the process of revisioning. This process requires critical insights more than creative flow. It is also often best accomplished several day or weeks after your speed drafting. This period allows time for critical thoughts to develop and for your to be more objective. The revision stage often involves contraction as well as amplification of your ideas. So be prepared for cutting down, chopping up, and repositioning your thoughts.

6. Taming the Dragons of Destruction.
“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.” — T. S. Eliot

It is very important that we learn to apply critical perception to our creative works. However, for many writers the negative thoughts can crowd out the ability to write confidently. The inner voice that questions your skills and ability, that constantly interrogates your sense of having a worthwhile and unique vision is the viral plague that constantly affects the tribe of writers. With experience writers learn that each of the key stages outlined above requires different degrees of critical and creative insight, and they learn to enjoy the unique character of each of the different stages. Accordingly, switch of destructive and negative thoughts. Keep reminding yourself that others will want to read your work, and that your work has value because it is the product of your unique perspective on the world.

7. Learning from others.
“Learning never exhausts the mind.” — Leonardo da Vinci

Great writers are also great readers. By studying the work of others we improve our writing skills. By becoming critical readers we sharpen our creative tools. Also, the creative work of others can allow the writer to contemplate re-tellings and re-visioning of the body of experience. Remember that the vast majority of Shakespeare’s plays were derived from printed sources written by others. He also learned the craft of writing by collaborating, by being a member of writing community. Nor did he confine himself to the writer’s room. For writing is also a big, bold, bracing encounter with life itself, and that’s not be had by staring at a blank screen. Finding the most sustainable balance between real writing and real life might be your biggest strategic decision.

Writing Machine, Swift, Gulliver's Travels (1726)

“Productivity is never an accident. It is always the result of a commitment to excellence, intelligent planning, and focused effort.” —  Paul J. Meyer