Tuesday, 2 January 2018


I have thought for a long time that writing is all about decisions - what to include, what to exclude, how to position each word and phrase. Therefore, I reason, people trying to fill jobs that call for "proven decision makers" should certainly consider writers, regardless of whether or not they hold MBAs from Harvard Business School.

While moving house recently, another parallel between writing and real life struck me. I discovered that the best way - at least for me - to approach the dreary business of unpacking was simply to dump in a particular part of the house all the things that more or less belonged in that approximate area. Once that had been done, I could begin to sort out the muddle, to transform the chaos into something approaching order. 

It strikes me that a similar approach to writing projects can be effective. When I faff around, afraid to get started on an assignment, sometimes the only thing that works is simply to dump all the things I think I want to say roughly where I think I want to say them on my piece of paper and then go back and sort them out. While the first draft is then a horrible semi-articulate jumble, it is at least something with which to work. If instead I try to arrange things perfectly from the very beginning, I never get anything finished. I don't know why this is or whether it is just something that happens to me, but it certainly seems to be a pattern that works well in my situation. Does anyone else find the same - that it is necessary to make an untidy heap at the beginning, which can then be sorted through, to create a beautifully orderly room or argument?

Or faintly orderly in my case, in both applications, to be honest.

Incidentally, before I finish, I should like to make clear that I do not approve of any sentence that suggests that anyone should "unpack" an idea. And no, I would not like to unpack my reasons - I just don't.

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