In numerous instances I have sat down to write a brief post only to have it end up being more substantial and involved then I intended. For this reason I often put off writing for this blog because it is hard for me to find the time, and I have learned that I am lying to myself when I think, “it will only take fifteen minutes.” And yet, I am not satisfied with writing in such an occasional fashion. For me, the Golden Mean between excess and defect would be about three times a week. For those not familiar with Aristotle’s philosophy of virtue, you can pretty much capture the Golden Mean by thinking about Goldilocks when she said, “this porridge is just” right.
Anyways, this post represents the inauguration of a new category called, “Writing Riffs.” I hope it will be the means by which I maintain the Golden Mean. In the written communication class that I teach, one of the assignments I give my students is a freewriting journal, which is an idea inspired by composition scholar Peter Elbow. Freewriting is basically putting your hand to paper and letting words flow without worry about grammar, concern about correctness, or any number of things that our inner editor tends to get hung up on that further tends to squelch our words. Elbow’s conviction was that regular practice of freewriting strengthens a writer’s natural voice, an element critical to good writing. He also felt it helped writers more successfully navigate the writing process, as it allowed a writer to separate the generative aspect from the editing aspect of writing.
To be honest, my posts for this category will not be strict freewriting. Rather, I will approximate some of the dynamics of freewriting as I attempt to bang out a new “Writing Riff”. If I am right, you will soon see more of these kinds of posts, and if I am wrong, then I will have a written testimony against me, the thought of which will hopefully inspire me, at least for the sake of saving my ego, to keep at this thing.