Friday, 15 January 2016

Elbowing writing problems out of the way

One omission from my recent post on writing and research was any reference to the work of Peter Elbow. He is probably best known for his promotion of free writing but he also has a great deal to say about the role of our understanding and use of spoken language. Spoken language, he argues, can be used as a tool to help us write more clearly particularly when it comes to harnessing it for editing existing texts. I particularly like this quotation from his 2013 paper "Using careless speech for careful, well crafted writing – whatever its style". 

"We can’t count on speech (or freewriting) to yield crisp clear sentences, but when we harness the resources of speech by reading aloud to revise, we can count on the intonational habits of the mouth and ear to produce sentences that are stronger and clearer than are often produced when people try to write with care". 

Ironically I find his writing a little dense in parts and often skip over parts of the text but that is a minor issue, because in my experience what he is saying is eminently 

Elbow, Peter (2013) "Using Careless Speech for Careful, Well-Crafted Writing— Whatever Its Style," The Journal of the Assembly for Expanded Perspectives on Learning: Vol. 19: Iss. 1, Article 3. 
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