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Creating and Criticizing: The One-Two of Effective Writing,
This review is from: Writing With Power (Paperback)
Experienced writer Peter Elbow takes issue with "the dangerous method" of writing: trying to turn out a good written product at one sitting. We are lured into this approach by its false potential to save time and effort. As readers, we move rapidly through well-written prose, enjoying the experience and assuming that the author has moved just as quickly and with as little effort in producing it. Not so, warns Elbow. We need to throw off the pressures of procrastination and deadlines to learn a better way.
The beginning of wisdom is to see writing as two processes. Writers should first give free reign to their creativity, getting as much written as possible. It is not yet the time for criticism or correction, but for fostering the flow of ideas and impressions from the writer's mind--conscious and unconscious--to paper or computer screen. Only after this fountain has gushed forth its all does the task turn to the careful shaping of ideas for the reader and clearing away all but necessary detail. Elbow's central message is that we should use the strengths of both processes, neither stifling our writing with premature evaluation nor abandoning our creative concepts before they have been fully formed.
Elbow's book supports development of our writing abilities within this two-part framework. The first section introduces the two core writing processes and emphasizes the value of freewriting early in the process and of obtaining feedback from others later on. The next two sections present techniques for getting words on paper and for revising those words into a readable final product. The three sections in the book's second half elaborate the author's writing model. Readers learn to identify their intended audience and use them to bring focus to their writing. There is extensive advice on obtaining feedback from other writers. The final section advises writers how to develop an individual voice that communicates their style and stance to the reader without getting in the way of the written message.
This book is recommended for writers trying to improve their writing. Beginning writers may benefit more from the way Elbow structures the overall writing process. But even experienced writers will find techniques and insights not previously considered. Satisfied readers may also benefit from Roy Peter Clark's Writing Tools: 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer.