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March 13, 2019: The Writing Life: Breakthroughs

I have often written about problem solving in relation to writing, suggesting that good writing comes about when one works through difficult issues. Today I had another revelation, which is that in attempting to solve problems, there are, if you are lucky, breakthroughs.

I had this happen today, and in a huge way. I’ve been working on what originally was an assigned paper for Yoga 101, entitled “Keeping a Yoga Journal.” My original audience was my yoga instructor – I was attempting to impress upon her that I knew a great deal about the how, what, when, where, and why of journaling; and furthermore, that she as a teacher might learn a few things from what I had to say.

Alys editing
Alys editing

Then I began thinking that because I was putting so much time into this paper, I should find an additional audience for it. I wasn’t sure what this audience might be, I thought perhaps a publication entitled Writing on the Edge, for their main area of publication focus is the composing process of writers. At the time, I thought that I might submit one version of this paper to my instructor and another to WOE. The second version would of course be more academic in that I’d include citations of known composing process specialists.

I soon discovered that WOE is no longer in existence. I mentioned this to Pete who suggested that I consider submitting my finished paper to Teaching Writing at Two Year Colleges. This seemed most fitting in that the students in my yoga class attend Mat-Su College, which is a two-year college. And it seemed even more fitting when I saw that they have a publication category called “Personal Essays.”

Today I resumed work on what I was calling a composing process protocol, which is in this case an account of my Yoga 101 journal writing process. I decided that I’d write a single draft, and it would be for both my yoga instructor and for the above-mentioned publication. I knew my instructor would not know who I referred to in my paper, but no matter. The references might be obscure, but my overview would be comprehensible.

My next decision centered on my breakthrough moment. The problem was, how might I incorporate the insights of the composing process specialists into my draft? My subsequent insight can be likened to having a 200 watt lightbulb go off above my head. It was that I’d have a conversation with my teachers and call it a Socratic Composing Process Dialogue. I further decided that this (imaginary, of course) conversation would take place in the Midnight Sun Yoga Studio. And the grand finale would involve one of them first asking me how I’d go about teaching the writing component of this particular class. Bingo – this would be a deft rhetorical move because the advice to my yoga instructor would be coming from my teachers instead of me.

I immediately knew this was going to work. I then had to call it quits because I had to go to strength training. What’s most significant here is that in working on this paper, I came to realize that, yes, I’d learned more than I’d previously thought about the composing process of writers when in school, to a large part because I had some very remarkable teachers. And this paper says that.

This paper is a departure, subject wise, from what I’ve been working on. But it has felt like a good path to follow.

Next: 72. 3/14/19: Chunking Things Down

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