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What I learned from Verlyn Klinkenborg

This is my thoughts on his wonderful book “Several short sentences about writing”.

Klinkenborg must be so confident that he didn’t bother to add any chapters. I felt a bit impatient at first, but then the book got better. I was hooked.

Patience. This book taught me to be patient.

Not as a reader, but as a writer.

Whenever a thought arises, or a sentence takes shape in my mind, I wanted to note it down. I’m afraid it would disappear.

But if it truly interests you, Klinkenborg says, it will reappear. Or a better one will appear.

Use it as a way to know what interests you.

You do this by noticing.

Try composing and editing in the mind before putting words down. Don’t write everything down. Don’t make an outline. Think through each sentence, and write it one by one.

This idea struck me as people suggest you should write your first draft fast since it won’t be good anyway.

But Klinkenborg warns us of volunteer sentences, those that come up on their own. And the difficulty of editing them out once written.

The write-draft-quick method seems like a way to escape from fear, self-doubt, and impatience, while the one-sentence-at-a-time method confronts the emotions head-on.

Why are we so eager to write them down? Why not spend as much time as it needs? Doesn’t it take time to do great work?

If you do this, “you’ll learn to trust the agility and capacity of your thinking,” Klinkenborg assures us. And we can get better by practicing.

Another reason people can’t wait to write their ideas down is they think the meaning of a piece is more important than sentences.

Nobody wants to waste time reading beautifully-written prose but take nothing away.

But the meaning is expressed through each sentence.

They are entangled. They are one.

What should we do then?

Try them, and see what works.

I don’t think they’re in conflict.

Use them as tools. Pick the one that works best at the moment.

There is no right or wrong way to write.

Visit here to see my notes for the book.

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