Thursday, January 15, 2009

#70: Grant Writer, Don't Research

EFF says Cory is a superhero and they mean it;...Image via WikipediaI really like this tip from Cory Doctorow, co-editor at BoingBoing, and a prolific writer. It further refines something I do when I finally settle down to write.

Locus Online Features: Cory Doctorow: Writing in the Age of Distraction: "Don't research
Researching isn't writing and vice-versa. When you come to a factual matter that you could google in a matter of seconds, don't. Don't give in and look up the length of the Brooklyn Bridge, the population of Rhode Island, or the distance to the Sun. That way lies distraction — an endless click-trance that will turn your 20 minutes of composing into a half-day's idyll through the web. Instead, do what journalists do: type 'TK' where your fact should go, as in 'The Brooklyn bridge, all TK feet of it, sailed into the air like a kite.' 'TK' appears in very few English words (the one I get tripped up on is 'Atkins') so a quick search through your document for 'TK' will tell you whether you have any fact-checking to do afterwards. And your editor and copyeditor will recognize it if you miss it and bring it to your attention."
When I'm finally writing, all my research and data gathering behind me, I just write. FAST as I can. (No editing, either. Just write.) When I come to something I have to look up, even in my notes, I type a question mark or two and highlight.Then I keep writing.

The yellow highlighting makes the points that need attention later stand out, but the action of highlighting takes me away from the keyboard. I wonder if I can use TK and highlight all the TK's later with a "find and replace."

I'll try it out today. I just finished a big YouthBuild grant last night (I don't need to remind those of you working on it that today's the deadline!), so I'm cleaning up and playing today.

BTW, Corey's whole article is worth reading. I can't imagine writing without Word, though.
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Anonymous said...

Great idea! I must admit, I'm guilty, try as I might to not procrastinate. On the other hand, I wouldn't have found this post if I hadn't been "researching."

Ruth Wahtera said...

My challenge, Kevin, is calling a stop to the "researching." I can't even get myself to call it procrastination! I love learning more, more, more. I'll write a sentence and wonder about something it triggers that would be interesting to know. But I probably couldn't fit it into the application given the page limits. And the deadline is looming. So, I must, must set a deadline for myself and my client. The reaseach and background work ends here. Write, Ruth, write!

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