Kevin Staley-Joyce sent me the link to this chart describing the process of writing. It is generally accurate for journalistic writing when the material should give you the angle and the outline, but too optimistic if applied to other types of writing when you have to say something insightful and then find the material to support it.

If making a chart for that kind of writing, I would have made the highs higher and the lows lower, and added a couple more lows. One low would be the moment when you begin to feel that the thesis or insight that had once excited you isn’t nearly as good as you thought it was or, if you are even more discouraged, that it’s just stupid. The other would be the moment when you realize that what you thought was the obvious insight, the insight around which you have organized the paper to the point that you can’t possibly go back and start over, depends on the answers to all sorts of questions to which you’ve never given two seconds thought.

Articles by David Mills

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