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Monday, January 3, 2011

Effortlessness

It takes a lot of hard work to get to the point where you can write without too much extra effort. You might have a stake in keeping writing difficult for yourself, but you can allow yourself to give up the fetish of exertion for its own sake. It doesn't have to feel like work all the time. Think of it as being put into the game when you want to play, or being given a solo in the band.

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Imagine a sentence that you just can't get right. You've written it and re-written it and it still doesn't sound like it should. Is the solution more work, or less? What you probably need to do is re-write the sentence in a simpler form, making it sound like a sentence that was easy to write.

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A student "worked hard" on a paper that, nevertheless, still has a grammatical mistake in every sentence. As a reader, I don't really care about effort. If the house is still cold, it doesn't matter how much fuel was burnt to heat it. In fact, if the house is cold despite a huge expenditure of energy, then I have two problems: a cold house and a high gas bill.

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Obviously, there will still be times when exertion, or effort, are necessary. Difficulty, in fact, is part of the fun of what we do.

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