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Eric Dayton, Philosophy Faculty

Writing Process

What is your writing process like?

My neighbour, David Crossley, and I have exactly opposite styles, which suggests that there's no one best style. His style is to get a notebook full of lined paper and he writes, and he writes, and he writes, and he writes, and he'll write maybe a hundred and fifty pages, which he then condenses into an article. And I think and think and think and think and think and then I write a sentence and then, once I have a sentence written, I can barely stand to change it. I do almost all my writing inside my head... and this [the following] is partly because of my view of how argument works: when you can hear an argument, and you can hear how the conclusion follows from what you've said, then you can write it down very cleanly, but if you don't quite see how the conclusion follows from what the premises are, then the task of writing is very onerous, because you have to somehow get from 'A' to 'B', and you don't quite know how to do it. I probably talk about it [the topic] to other people and I walk to school and back; It's about a half an hour walk, and I think about writing when I'm walking, which I think is a very effective way to study. (So, in your method of working, starting something well in advance is crucial because you need that time to let it percolate.) Yeah. Yeah. So, when I'm working on an article I might be thinking about it for two or three months before I actually sit down and write it. The writing always takes longer than I expect, but you know, a couple of weeks, I guess.