(Source: Stefan Schmiedl)
>An activity that I /do/ still have trouble with, however, is writing.
> When faced with having to compse anything more substantial than an
> email response, I feel the fear start to creep in and I get myself all
> tied in knots. Even after I start to put some words down, I often
> find myself getting stuck because the thing isn't flowing and the task
> of finishing seems overwhelming.
Yup, writers block definitively, as John Roth diagnosed already. But if
you’re able to describe it in such flowering detail as above,
there’s no need to have it.
> So on my way home last night (after another frustrating couple of
> hours trying to get some thoughts on paper), I was thinking about how
> I could make my prose writing come as easily as my code writing. I
> started wondering if I couldn't somehow employ a TDD-like cycle in my
> writing process.
I am often writing articles with my business partner,
who’s<br>especially good at collecting lots of nice stuff on
the web. The first thing I have do with the "drafts" I get from
him, is to find the<br>structure fitting best to the available data.
This is currently donein a Mindmap using freemind (freely available at
sf.net, IIRC). For some<br>time I also tried vimoutliner (www.vimoutliner.org) for this, but
found that for this process, the two-dimensional display of a mindmap is
better suited to my brain.
When the outline is finished, I start to grow the flesh on the bones.
That’s relatively easy, as I confine my work strictly to the current
The next step is easy, if I have the time: I let the stuff settle for a few
days, then go over it once more and clean up the unbelievable mess I
created then. If I don’t have the time, I need to play about two
hours nethack, which erases my brain just as well…
So the steps are:
- data collection
- gradually by experience
- by force (coauthor delivery)
- data organization
- follow the map
- work local
- refactor or polish
- grammar, spelling, rhetoric
- present line of thought more clearly
I think that there’s a difference between code and prose showing
here. You expect your code to give certain results for a given input, and
you are free to not care about the implementation at all. With prose,
implementation is almost everything. So the cost of providing a
"working release" is higher with prose than with code. At least
>find myself getting stuck because the thing isn't flowing and the task
>of finishing seems overwhelming.
Writing is like every other kind of art. It is never finished.
Feeling better now?
Writing is like dealing with animals. Don’t be afraid of it, and it
won’t hurt you.
Your fellow author in pain, S.