by Thomas Pitney ’24
Sun Tzu once said, “every battle is won before it is fought.” How can we apply this principle to the writing process? Talking. That’s right, writing breakthroughs often occur without even putting pen to paper! So, how can the simple act of conversation help you in your writing process?
When you are given any prompt, a sea of ideas likely pop up in your head. You could answer it in several different ways, but you’re unsure which response is best. Often, the infinite number of choices can be overwhelming, leaving you repeating the same question: “how can I sort through all the options?” When this “battle of ideas” happens, talk it out with someone! This could be anyone – a professor, consultant in the Writing Center, friend, or even a family member. They can serve as your sounding board and give helpful ideas that help you select a topic. Be sure to write notes while you talk so you can remember your brainstorming session later!
So you have an idea as to how you want to answer the prompt, great! But now you’re stuck trying to organize your ideas. You know what you want to say, but don’t know how to say it. Never fear because you have the power of conversation! You don’t even have to talk with someone who knows about your topic; in fact, being able to talk about your topic with a non-expert can be even more helpful to you! Walk them through your ideas and note areas where they say your paper could be organized more logically. Better yet, explaining your ideas to someone else verbally gives you confidence that you can write a quality paper!
Evidently, drafting your paper involves a lot of time typing in front of a computer. In that case, then why is talking helpful during this step of the writing process? Even with an intricate outline, you will often hit the dreaded “writer’s block.” These moments can make you feel trapped and unable to break through. A simple conversation – whether to think aloud, brainstorm, or even cry – may be all you need to smash down the writer’s block holding you back!
Editing and Revising
You have a rough draft and can see the light at the end of the tunnel! All you need to do is make final edits and revisions before your work is complete. Why bother talking at this stage? A fantastic strategy to catch missing words, misspelling, and grammatical mistakes is to read your paper aloud. You can do this by yourself, or better yet, with someone you trust. In fact, the best revisions originate from others. This could be a minor suggestion, or a deeper conversation that results in more substantial edits. These conversations, to yourself and to others, can greatly enhance the quality of your work!
Congratulations! You’ve completed your paper and, thanks to your wise decision to use talking as a tool throughout the writing process, you received an A! Whenever you feel stuck during any step in the writing process, the simple act of conversation can get you back on track. Don’t overlook the power of talking!