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The courage to be simple

January 31st, 2011

It is enormously difficult for most smart people to write in a manner that feels, for lack of a better word, stupid.  But first drafts often require a simple a-b-c recitation of facts that can seem pedantic to someone who is used to reading much richer stuff.  This happens because the richness comes from the editing phase, rewriting and layering in more complexity after the basic structure is in place.  It is much like building a house, where you don’t start painting or putting in furniture until you have constructed some rather boring-looking walls.

Academic authors can become overwhelmed by trying to tell the story and sound smart at the same time.  But if you free yourself to sound dull, tedious, and linear, wonderful things can happen. You’ll get the story out in a no-frills way, and then you’ll have the luxury of going back in and adding the brainy bits.

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