Another day, another helpful column from Inside Higher Ed. This one’s from Kerry Ann Rockquemore*, who reminds us that writing is thinking (I love it when the thesis is in the title). Rockquemore suggests that it’s not necessary to wait for the reading, research, and outlining to get done before you start writing, and that, “You can write before, during, and after the research process.” Absolutely right; I find that writing while I research helps direct my research a bit more. I’d vice-versa that advice: research while you write. I’ve found that if do some research directly relevant to whatever I’m writing at the time, I get inspired: new ideas, new approaches, new energy and interest in the topic (“Oh, yeah! That’s what I thought was so interesting and full of potential!”).
On another level, the article is an argument about the magic that happens when you write–that your brain has to do some extra tricks and flips to make letters make words make sentences make paragraphs. (See the J-5 video below for more). And there really is something to this: when I write, I move muscles that help with arguments, muscles that don’t seem to be fully engaged in that same way when I outline or brainstorm. There–it just happened. It’s occurred to me that brainstorming, outlining, and writing are different ways of approaching an argument, with each offering their own strengths and potentials. I’m sure all of this was obvious to you before now. But then again, we’ve always known you were the smarter one, haven’t we?
*Which, by the way, is surely one of the best names ever: Rock You More. Awesome.