The List: Inspiration and Perspiration

Ha!  I’ve finally wrestled that last sentence to the ground. The referee blows the whistle, and I get up off the mat, wiping the sweat off my brow. Like most people, I feel like I’ve gone ten rounds with Ali and Foreman after writing a short article. The process is long, drawn out and painful.  My crappy first drafts feel like a dragging myself through that first exercise session after six months of lounging on the sofa, stopping every ten minutes or so to catch my breath (or check my email).

My colleagues, the Writing Professor and the Leadership Professor, both seem to write effortlessly. I am both inspired and jealous. But recently I have been working with both of them on different projects, and have learned that they too sweat over every word. Agonizingly long line by line final edits, endless debates over punctuation and grammar, complete restructuring of the entire document generally are all part and parcel of working with a great writer.

So you can imagine my enthusiasm when I came across Steven Pinker’s new book The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.  I’m enjoying every word.  This is not your mother’s style manual. It is not some referee, blowing a whistle at every infraction of the rules. Rather, Pinker coaches, encouraging, critiquing, and suggesting from the sidelines.  Which inspires a new sense of determination. Like every athlete, the aspiring writer needs to observe, practice, and be persistent in the pursuit of victory.

Of course, procrastination is a finely honed talent of mine.  So enough with writing this post.  It’s time to start on that dreaded paper

Categories: Books, Hard Work

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