Slate ran a breezy, if overlong, précis of an article in what turns out to be a bit of a cult classic, The Cambridge Handbook of Expertise and Expert Performance. (There’s a waiting list for it at the library.)

I read Ronald T. Kellogg’s “Professional Writing” chapter and found that it actually does not include anything that could be considered advice. It will not teach you how to “write faster.” It is merely a literature review, the likes of which I have been reading for 20 years now. The chapter certainly does a worse job of elaborating the twin issues of hypergraphia and writer’s block (both mentioned by name) than The Midnight Disease (q.v.) did.

Nonetheless, in a reprise of the classic trope that there are two kinds of people, Kellogg quotes previous research (elided here) as proving exactly that.

Beethovians engage in few prewriting activities and prefer to compose rough first drafts immediately to discover what they have to say. Their drafting necessarily involves many rounds of revision.

By contrast, Mozartians delay drafting for lengthy period of time in order to allow time for extensive reflection and planning. They may also plan mental pre-text [terrible choice of words sic] that is later recalled and written down as a first polished draft. A variety of notational methods are used to externalize plans during prewriting, including tree diagrams, flowcharts, boxes, arrows, doodles, as well as lists and outlines

…and, now, a vast array of personal information managers from Evernote to OmniFocus.

In this taxonomy, I am a Mozartian, but what I have learned the hard way is that anything other than a hed you cook up in advance is a darling that ends up getting killed.

The foregoing posting appeared on Joe Clark’s personal Weblog on 2011.09.12 13:46. This presentation was designed for printing and omits components that make sense only onscreen. (If you are seeing this on a screen, then the page stylesheet was not loaded or not loaded properly.) The permanent link is:

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None. I quit.

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