Different Processes for Different Tasks by Sue Samson
I write often and for very different reasons. The one consistent process that I use is to just start writing and save the organizing and editing for subsequent versions. If I am drafting a manuscript, I start writing the section about which I am most informed or inspired. Once that section is complete, I can move to the introduction with more confidence. Sometimes, I write the conclusions and then start from the beginning to methodically justify. This often leads to nuanced modifications of my conclusions and definitely strengthens my arguments and the general organization of the completed document.
This writing process evolved, I believe, while writing poetry. With creative writing, I often have an image or a portion of a thought that crystallizes the entry into a poem. I do not hesitate to consider where I should start or what the best introduction might be. I simply start writing, using the image or thought as a catalyst to record all of its random connections.
Once the words are there, the editing begins. This part of the process has evolved into my favorite. I take pleasure in moving sections from one place to another to reorder and improve the logic. I truly enjoy word carving—simplifying sentence structure, clarifying meaning, finding that perfect word. I like to write and need to write often as part of my profession. Ask me to write a report, and I will; and I will also edit it into the best report ever. Ask me to write a poem, and I will be rendered happy.
Sue Samson is a Humanities Librarian and the Library Instruction Coordinator at UM’s Mansfield Library.