Monday, July 06, 2015

Soft Skills: Writing as Madman, Architect, Carpenter and Judge

Writing breaks down into 4 distinct phases:  brainstorming, organization, writing and editing. To  reinforce the distinctness of these  phases, think of writing as four distinct jobs:  Madman, Architect, Carpenter and Judge.   Maximize your efficiency by doing each job, distinctly, deliberately and serially.

Each  job has a specific goal,  and  that goal should be your  sole focus during while doing that job.  Do not do the next job, and do not go back to previous jobs.  To reinforce the distinctness of each job, consider using a different tool, and physical reminders of each job.

As madman, your job is brainstorming.  Take your brain's musings and get them down on paper. Maximize creativity, find as many interesting ideas as possible. As madman don't waste time "arguing" or "revising" what you're spitting out.  Personally, I use pen and paper when  I'm the mad man to prevent  myself from revising, editing, or organizing my thoughts.

As architect, your job is organizing. Take the madman's ramblings and distill them into an outline. Decide what you want to say, who your audience is then, produce a model and outline via aggressive triaging. As architect don't waste time on "how it sounds" or "how it looks".  Personally, I use point form lists in OneNote when I'm the Architect as it allow me to  easily see and organize the structure of my writing.

As carpenter, your job is writing the paragraphs, sentences and words.  Take the architects outline and turn it into to paragraphs and sentences.  Decide the tone, the examples, and start writing. As carpenter don't waste time on spelling, grammar, or excessive rewriting. Personally, I turn off the spell checker when I'm the Carpenter as to prevent me from fixing typos that I'll likely rewrite anyway.

As judge, your job is editing.  Take the carpenters masterpiece and make it consistent, and error free.  Make sure everything is correct and be critical.  Personally, I turn the spell check on at this phase, but I'm terrible at judge, and usually enlist the help of others when doing this job.

By splitting out the different jobs of writing, your writing should get clear, faster, and more rewarding.

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