I was recently thinking about some of the great 20th century authors and the volumes they created using a typewriter to bang out their prose (or maybe a pen…). Starting with a finite blank page, typing, x-ing things out, reading it over, scribbling edits by hand, retyping and repeating till they felt their stories were complete. It was a long, solitary and arduous journey. And it produced works of genius.
And I wonder if the passion for immediacy in our web 2.0 world is running counter to that process. I’m not saying we should hang onto the past. I am saying it sometimes feels like we’re trading speed for reflection.
Yes, we can spew out words and ideas on a keyboard (much like this), quickly read it over, spell check (hopefully), link and publish. But how much time are we spending rewriting? Looking at our ideas from a different angle, a fresh perspective, the benefit of time; and then revising or maybe starting anew.
These days, I’m getting a lot of mini aha moments; that is idea-bursts from blogs, tweets, articles and observations online. And while these are energizing kernels of thought, sometimes they’re not enough. And I crave the brilliance I still get from certain authors or a great, sprawling conversation.
Perhaps we need the equivalent of writerly speed limits, i.e. slow down our prose, choose words more selectively, be a bit less prolific and take that extra time to consider before we hit publish or press send.
Sure we can all be writers. Maybe we need to become reflectors too.