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Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Critiquing and Criticizing


Critiquing a developing work is a process, not a proclamation. Learning to critique constructively will help you develop your work. To learn effective critiquing skills requires:

  • developing skills in creative and critical thinking
  • recognizing the "rules" of writing and how they can be broken
  • learning the language of constructive feedback
  • practice, practice, practice
There are no shortcuts and the learning effective critique includes blunders and gaffs. However, this learning process helps you look at your own work in a more constructive way, reducing your anxiety when you share your work with others.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Writer's Block

Writer's block? Feh! Thinker's block is more like it. Sometimes you have to trick yourself to think in a way that moves your work forward. This can mean anything from walking the dog to cooking a gourmet meal to picking a fight with your best friend. Some require physical movement, others sensory stimulation and other prefer emotional upheaval. Whatever shifts your thinking. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Voting Helps You Write



It's election day and you are reminded of how your opinions differ from others. Candidates and advocates of initiatives, propositions and referendums successfully persuade through sound bytes. However, oversimplification does not promote thinking. Ramifications are easily ignored, replaced by righteous rants that feed emotion rather than explore the often complex process of governing.

Voting is an exercise in critical thinking. Exploring opposing opinions that go beyond attitude, rhetoric and name-calling with additional research requires an open mind. You are required to understand conflicting intentions and ways of thinking.

The root of good writing is effective conflict. To immerse yourself in conflict requires the ability to think critically from different points of view. Train your brain to embrace the power of conflict by voting.

Friday, October 17, 2014

The Dangers of Thinking


One danger of thinking is that your thoughts may be rejected or you may later find out what you thinking was wrong or simply illogical. Sure, you can quote NPR or John Stewart and sound pithy and smart, but is that thinking? Not so much.

Consider exercising your ability to think by deliberately presenting an illogical argument. Allow others to disagree and present evidence to that contradicts the points you make. Listen to what others say, accept that which makes sense to you and reframe your original argument. You'll find that rejection and disagreement are not such a big deal.

Not only does this exercise help you think, it reinforces your ability to create conflict in what you write. Another benefit is that when others comment on your written work, you can better assimilate the feedback that works for you. Or not. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

How do you think?


Thinking in burps and farts does not a good writer make. Writing requires sustained thinking, preferably with honed creative and critical thinking skills. Nor does that mean thinking in pukes and bowel movements. 

You have your own style of thinking and this is a good thing. Learning to enhance your skills within that style promotes success in writing and in life. However, these skills, like those that are physical, require exercise and practice, accompanied by guidance to assure you don't sprain your brain. 

How do you do this? Start by identifying your style. This process can take many different forms. 

  • Maybe you're a visual thinker (you'd rather read the comic). 
  • Maybe you're more focused on verbiage (you hate it when "you're" is incorrectly replaced with "your"). 
  • Maybe you assign emotions to different thoughts (you pay attention when you hear onomatopoeia like "feh")
  • Maybe you are inspired when you eat something sweet (no wonder you're overweight)
  • Maybe you need kinetic stimulation (you are touched when you are touched)
Think about it.