Friday, November 20, 2009

Robert Boice does it again, this time with hypnosis

Anyone who works in scholarly publishing with faculty members will sooner or later probably encounter the work of Robert Boice. I've blogged about him before, because his research on how productive scholars publish is the very best in its field. Today I'm re-reading his book Advice For New Faculty Members, which ought to be republished as Thoughts for Anyone on Any Faculty at Any Level, because trust me, there are plenty of associate and full professors who also need to read this stuff.

Boice makes an interesting connection between people who are willing to tolerate ambiguity long enough to get through the prewriting stages, and those who are hypnotizable. Since I'm a huge fan of deep-relaxation hypnosis, I paid attention. Here's what Boice says: "People who display the most resistance to being hypnotized display obvious commonalities; they are most unwilling to go along with suggestions, to suspend suspicion and disbelief, to trust themselves and the hypnotist. These 'low-susceptibles' also struggle the most as writers. Why? They have not learned to trust general images and rough wordings that could be put on paper or screen in advance of formal writing. Instead they work cautiously, looking for perfect sentences to begin with, listening too soon to internal editors (those voices of authority figures who remind us of rigid rules and standards about writing), and doubting too readily" (125).


james king said...

I'll have to get this book. This difference in thinking may go to training too. Architects and lawyers, as an example, receive different training, each purposefully focused on different ways of thinking. The former is based upon an iterative inclusive process and the latter dependent upon an exclusive logical construct. Architects trained in the Beaux-Arts tradition are called upon to begin each design exercize with a "parti", from the french, "prendre parti" or 'to make a decision'. It could be a simple phrase or back-of-the-envelope sketch, but it represents the initial Big Idea upon which every aspect of a subsequent design solution is based, and ultimately judged. The Architect builds upon this simple parti in layer upon layer of ever more detailed, refined and "inclusive" (divergent aspects of a building design are drawn into the solution)iterations - building to a final product. When finished, reference is made back to the priginal Parti or Big Idea. If the design solution does not correspond to or resolve the initial thought, despite, maybe being a beautiful design, the student is failed with a grade of "au contraire". I imagine this process would serve the writer well. It calls for a little and imperfect initial expressions of an idea and puts faith in the redrafts as a process that will generate a great work, as long as the author remains true to the initial idea.

steve said...
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