Monday, July 02, 2007

Writing, Comfort, and the Mistakes that Happen

I love how simply organic writing on paper is, but this process is so limiting compared to digital. There is no way to update, reorganize, easily share, or file. But paper carries personality--choices of paper weight, ink, stroke, handwriting--so much more is communicated that just the meaning of words. Looking back on old journals, I can sense mood, intent, context existing in the markings, communicated independent of the words.

One of the fundamental questions when writing becomes "how do I plan to use this?" The answer to which drives media selection decisions; I recently jotted down a list of things to do that should have been done, at a minimum, in a spreadsheet and perhaps more ideally in some form of concept map; something that can be pushed and pulled, revised, posted for comment, tagged, shared... Perhaps accomplishing my list should be done through a wiki, an ongoing, online repository of my own and others thinking about how to accomplish the goals before me.

With so many choices, I pick up my notebook out of habit, out of comfort, out of a need to tap out imperfect thoughts. This reminds me of Miguel's post about sharing and making mistakes in a transparent environment. I'm a bit of a perfectionist; I will probably reread this post three or four times before publishing just to make sure everything is exact.

But how honest is this?

We all know learning is a process and, therefore, messy. This is one of the fundamental lesssons I try to teach my students. I encourage them to engage in the process of writing openly, showing their drafts to classmates, accepting and rejecting feedback, explaining the choices they make between drafts.

One of my challenges for myself is to be more willing to do what I ask my students to do, engage in the messiness of the process. Once I clear out a few thoughts from the notebook (this post started two weeks ago), I will endevor to put my thoughts directly into this space in a more timely fasion.

Of course, that comes with problems. As I reread this (only the second time, I promise), I realize the second half, which was composed on the spot, is only loosely connected with the first. I'm trying to learn to live with that.

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