16 Comments

Interesting. I would never just start to throw stuff on a page. I compose while I'm on a walk or a bike ride, and I revise in my head a lot. The writing part is just transcribing.

If I need to interrupt writing for any reason (maybe it's a point I want to research, or maybe it's some unrelated distraction), I jot down a few key words to remind me what I was planning to write next.

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author

Your method of writing while walking reminds me a bit of what William Pitt the Younger is supposed to have done before his speeches to Parliament. I certainly compose sentences and paragraphs while taking a shower or while sitting wide awake trying to sleep, but I find I then feel an overwhelming urge to pour it out of my head and onto the page, to avoid forgetting it and so that I can free up my brain for other things. Your strategy fits a bit with my own, however, for ensuring that you're ready for battle before writing (that you've done the research bit already)

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First of all, congratulations!

I like that framing, of how to notice when you should be researching and when you should be writing.

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author

Thanks! Hope you find it useful!

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Sep 8, 2022Liked by Anton Howes

Hey congratulations!

Great points on writing. I've been using the 4 xs for years but i also colour code my uncertainties in red. The main trouble now is to stop writing 4 books at a time.

Best wishes to you.

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author

Ha, yes! I have a poster next to my desk with Robin saying "Ooh look a cool new research ide...!" before being slapped by Batman saying "OMG please finish the papers you've already started!!!"

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Sep 9, 2022Liked by Anton Howes

I love the article, Anton. Researching (too much of it, such that I don't know how to stop) and editing is exactly what holds my writing back!

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author

Hope it helps!

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Sep 9, 2022Liked by Anton Howes

Congratulations and mazeltov on your marriage!

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Well said! (And congrats!)

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Sep 11, 2022Liked by Anton Howes

Congratulations

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Congrats!

And also - I can only second your approach. My writing usually looks like a mess of *bolded* XXXXses and numerous [sidenotes in curly brackets about something I need to maybe elaborate on but I really should decide later as I cannot go down every rabbit hole that pops to my mind].

And it somehow works, which still surprises me. Gotta be honest - writing is the most mentally excruciating work I have come upon. When programming I can probably focus for 5-6 hours with some breaks. Writing? After two hours all I have left is a mental capacity of a half-frozen potato.

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author

That certainly rings true! I often find that writing can feel a bit like expelling a virus - I get into a sort of frenzy trying to get everything onto the page so that I can then collapse.

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Recently I've been using voice to text transcription software to write. I think about what I want to say, i speak slowly and clearly, nit just for the software, but to think carefully about the ideas. I only keep an eye on the transcription to ensure it doesn't miss anything, ignoring the misspellings. It's like I'm having a conversation with a friend, mulling my ideas out loud.

I find this technique a real time saver, i get ideas out much quicker, and it works at the speed my mind works - not at how fast i can type. Which is approximately 35-40 words per minute, but i think a bit faster, and I'm often watching what I type, which is distracting.

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author

Really cool idea - and pretty close to how very many books were written before the 1980s. Loooads of stories of authors dictating books to their wives, husbands, or assistants.

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I had no idea, that's really interesting.

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