In The Art of On-the-Job Writing, I describe six techniques for overcoming writer’s block. The first, using boilerplate, enocurages writers to jumpstart the composition process not by obsessing over perfect phrasing but by using previously documented expressions—regardless of how trite they may seem. They can return later to the first draft and edit the tired phrases.
Leo Rockas’s A Creative Copybook (D.C. Heath and Company, 1989) even suggests copying entire passages to create an organic connection between your thought process and your linguistic expressions. He writes:
Don’t lose one second wondering how to start; just start copying. Once you’ve begun, your pen flows, the ideas begin coming from you don’t know where. If your own ideas don’t come right away, just keep copying. Copying to keep in practice, copying as a beginning to creating, copying until creating, copying while creating—these techniques are as old as writing itself. As you copy, magically you begin to create.
By no means does Rockas—or I, for that matter—endorse plagiarizing. He does encourage, however, using the writing process to get things going. I would agree that to speed up matters, we should distinguish between the phases of the composing process: the creative phase, which concerns only the writer at work, and the critical phase, which ends in the final product that our readers see.
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