Peter Elbow - Desperation Writing

Peter Elbow - Desperation Writing - Desperation Writing...

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Desperation Writing Peter Elbow I know I am not alone in my recurring twinges of panic that I won’t be able to write something when I need to, I won’t be able to produce coherent speech or thought. And that lingering doubt is a great hindrance to writing. It’s a constant fog or static that clouds the mind. I never got out of its clutches till I discovered that it was possible to write something—not something great or pleasing but at least something usable, workable—when my mind is out of commission. The trick is that you have to do all your cooking out on the table: your mind is incapable of doing any inside. It means using symbols and pieces of paper not as a crutch but as a wheel chair. The first thing is to admit your condition: because of some mood or event or whatever, your mind is incapable of anything that could be called thought. It can put out a babbling kind of speech utterance, it can put a simple feeling, perception, or sort-of-thought into understandable (though terrible) words. But it is incapable of considering anything in relation to anything else. The moment you try to hold that thought or feeling up against some other to see the relationship, you simply lose the picture—you get nothing but buzzing lines or waving colors. So admit this. Avoid anything more than one feeling, perception, or thought. Simply write as much as possible. Try simply to steer your mind in the direction or general vicinity of the thing you are trying to write about and start writing and keep writing. Just write and keep writing. (Probably best to write on only one side of the paper in case you should want to cut parts out with scissors — but you probably won’t.) Just write and keep writing. It will probably come in waves. After a flurry, stop and take a brief rest. But don’t stop too long. Don’t think about what you are writing or what you have written or else you will overload the
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This note was uploaded on 07/14/2010 for the course ENGL 015 taught by Professor Travers during the Spring '10 term at Peru State.

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Peter Elbow - Desperation Writing - Desperation Writing...

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