Zinsser-ism

William Zinsser once wrote that “writing is thinking on paper.” His argument is that once you can organize your thoughts and knowledge well enough to write about them, you will truly understand your material. He advocates writing as part of the learning process rather than just a product of it.

Working on my proposal has certainly clarified my thoughts on my topic. Now that I am writing a chapter, I have identified areas for which I lack clarity and consequently can’t form a coherent sentence, much less a paragraph. I am being forced to step back and look at the big picture then zoom in and ferret out the small details. I need forests and trees, but the result must be as compelling as the Ansel Adams photograph shown here.

If writing is thinking on paper, then creating a website to complement your writing is…well, I’m not sure. Thinking in air? Thinking on screen? I am finding that organizing my information in a thoughtful and useful way makes me, again, look at the trees and then at the forest and then at the trees and so on. Ultimately it’s a different way to organize the information from the way I must approach it for my dissertation. It’s good exercise and I encourage everyone to do it. You can see my effort at people.bu.edu/pjbishop. It’s still a work in progress, but I’ll post updates here.

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