Stretching leads to Writing Flexibility
Could this possibly make writing flow easier and more naturally in the future?
The ancients routinely trained their ability to argue any position. It was considered an art in itself, and no one was fit for intellectual pursuits before first training in these preliminaries, the Progymnasmata.
Sometimes we offspring of the philosophers have lost contact with some of the fundamental exercises of our craft. And then we might wonder– when we get stuck, or when writing feels like slogging through a swamp, with hot flaming oil slicks ahead– what’s wrong with me?
Well, there’s nothing wrong with you. You just need some time in the writing gym.
A Simple Exercise
Anyone who has joined the Slavoj Žižek book of the month club, even if only for only one month, knows that this technique can actually be used to create endless academic production at an extremely high rate.
Not sure exactly what you are trying to say? Or would it be so much easier to know what to write next if only you had a clear idea about where you are going with all this?
Have I got the solution for you: ŽižekIt!™
Žižek publishes at least a book a month, seems like. This is his schtick, but we can use it as a deepening tool, and I authorize you to use it for yourself and immediate members in your family for unlimited instances. Also note that highly creative people can have very mechanical systems to their production.
Now to the ŽižekIt!™ procedure. Of course, all the jokes here are insider ones, depending on what discipline you are in and what kinds of readings you’ve been exposed to. But obscure jabs aside, this is in fact a writing exercise that is definitely worth doing even if all the catty words here are, admittedly, unnecessary to explain it. Note also there is a very important point at the end, if you can bear to read through all rest.
How You Do It:
In any part of your article, book, or dissertation where you make an assertion, or for the main assertion, do a focused separate experimental writing as a critique of what you are saying. Set a timer if you wish, and write for 5 or 10 minutes.
But here is the important, patent-pending rule of ŽižekIt!™:
You must prove that precisely the opposite or inverse is true.
Put your actual assertion at the top of your experimental page, and then go all opposite on its ass.
Perhaps it’s an actual sentence from your text, perhaps your summary, or an extract from a portion of your text.
For instance, if your paragraph, chapter, or dissertation makes the argument that radical left wing whatchamacallits are organizing to this or that particular effect, write how in fact not only is this wrong, but precisely and exactly the opposite is in fact the case, and why.
It’s important in the ŽižekIt!™ Method to be ruthlessly focused: again, the argument you make is not that the conclusion is wrong or flawed– it must be that it is exactly and precisely the opposite of what is true. So, keep your eye on the ball.
This procedure should always be addressed to logical reasoning and to arguments, and not directly to empirical findings. The empirical world is outside the parameters of ŽižekIt!™ modus operandi and may lead to the production of… gasp… fantasy.
Make it ŽižekIt!™worthy
If you cannot find the opposite position to your argument, because your original assertion does not have an opposite, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. However it may be a sign that your work is a bit milquetoast. See if you can prep your work and make it ŽižekIt!™worthy. However, again, it might be the case– and rightly so– that the most intelligent and elegant expression of your idea is not ŽižekIt!™worthy.
Either adjust your assertion at the top of the page, or pick another, more worthy, portion of your work to perform the procedure on.
Use the ŽižekIt!™ method anywhere and everywhere on your work– it accomplishes two things at least:
–it may reveal parts of your work that could be bolder than they are at present, and it calls to your mind more opportunities for conflict and depth in your writing. YourŽižekIt!™ moments can be incorporated into your draft (probably in a new form of expression!) in the discussion of your idea. This is especially good where you are moving along too fast for readers, either being unclear in your expression or– and I see this a whole lot– merging and stringing together too many arguments and concepts in a series of sentences, or all too often, in a single sentence.
Turning up the contrast on your idea makes it clearer, can make it more convincing once other views are taken into account, and slows things down so the reader has more time to process large leaps in argument.
Actually writing things out from the contrary position may produce some seeds that can be planted back in the original text. But whether you include anything from your writing experiments using this method, or not, the MOST IMPORTANT thing is ŽižekIt!™ will make your idea clearer in YOUR mind, which can only help every step of the way.
–The other wonderful thing that happens when you go all opposite on your text is that it churns up all kinds of things in your mind, and can help immensely with blockages.
Kind of stumped as to what to do next? Write from the contrary position. You are bound to discover something.
WARNING: Overuse of ŽižekIt!™ carries risks and possible side-effects including bloating of ego and straw-man arguments, in writers predisposed to such conditions.
ŽižekIt!™ is a registered technique of Academic Muse Inc. and is licensed for your personal use only: resale or reuse is expressly prohibited, except in Texas where it is sorely needed.