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Writing With Power: Techniques for Mastering the Writing Process Paperback – 9 Jul 1998
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Writing with Power is a guide for the student writing an essay, the professional writer working on a story, or the manager writing a memo for a tight deadline. As Elbow explains, "Writing with power doesn't just mean getting power over readers. It means getting power over yourself and over the writing process: knowing what you are doing as you write; figuring out what you really mean; being in charge, having control; not feeling stuck or helpless or intimidated. I am particularly interested in this second kind of power in writing, and I have found that without it you seldom achieve the first kind". For the second edition, Elbow has written a new introduction in which he discusses in detail the "mysterious" dimensions of "Writing with Power" - voice, quality and bad writing, wrongness and felt sense, and sharing written work with others.
About the Author
Peter Elbow is Professor of English and Director of the writing program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
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The whole book revolves around another author's idea called 'freewriting'. Peter Elbow says if you start writing non-stop whatever passes through your mind, you will end up writing something.
No doubt about that, but it will just be a lot of junk, and who on earth wants to write THAT?
By the way, the book also sounds as though it's been written using the same technique, which explains why it is so repetitious, unpolished and poorly structured.
Definitely one for the bin.
My favourite chapter - Poetry as no Big Deal.
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.
When you start reading this book it is immediate that this author knows what he is talking about. This author does not want you to believe all the stuff you've been told over the years. He takes a fresh approach, an approach that can easily be related to in all who read it. The sort of 'mad professor' angle.
Being as he is experienced in the teaching of good writing he has the fortune of examples to draw back on. This gives his examination and writing a human touch. One that is blessed with true life experiences which can instantly relate to you and me the reality of writing for real. The reality of writing not because you feel obliged (as if you are writing an essay) but simply because you love the process, creative expression and finished product of writing.
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