I’m currently revising a journal article, incorporating comments from my supervisor. Four of the first five comments are, ‘too wordy’, ‘needs streamlining’, ‘needs polishing’, ‘express clearly’ (the other comment was that a sentence was too technical). My first drafts tend to be full of run-on sentences (a phrase I had never heard before I started my PhD). My favourite (embarrassing) comment on a paper so far; ‘JUST PUT SOME PERIODS IN!’. That one has at least stuck in my mind, and I try not to write sentences that are six (or more) lines long anymore.
So I have been thinking about communication of complex ideas. Or communication of simple ideas, with complex justifications.
While struggling to re-write sentences for this paper, I thought of an exercise for myself, using a technique that has helped me to streamline my thinking in the past.
- might be good practice for writing better,
- also help me get my head around complex concepts,
- might develop some good ways to communicate important concepts?
So here is my plan – to write, in 17 syllables or less (haiku structure, but not haiku concepts), an expression of a concept. Or, in a series of 17 syllables, a comparison of concepts. As many as I can think of and produce. I’m not going to give myself deadlines or specific goals, because I wouldn’t meet them (obviously, with the state of this blog!).
Here is the first one.
The industrial revolution
fast strong hot machines
drink fuel and belch pollution
more and more and more
make farm tools, clothing
buildings, school books, water pumps,
now pink cowboy hats