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Reading is difficult. As a writer, I help the reader every way I can think of. As a reader, I work hard not to miss the big things in the middle of the road.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Are Hand-Written First Drafts Better?

Erik Gerding of the Conglomerate Blog makes an intriguing suggestion that we all might be better off hand-writing our first drafts reporting that law school professors say that law students who handwrite their exam answers and opposed to word-processing the answers tend to make the better grades in a class. He also pointed out that the legal work on the documents that occasioned the Great Recession was done by lawyers cutting and pasting parts of old documents rather than by drafting the documents from scratch. He implies that handwriting a draft might have improved their understanding of the nature of the documents and that someone would have understood the documents better and pulled the plug before the crisis. (Making money in the present blinds one to future dangers, such as the practical uninsurability of the risk of credit default.)
Still, I do believe that I understand my documents better when I have hand-written the first drafts of them.
I read in Skeptic magazine that Jared Diamond, the brilliant and thoroughly up-to-date author of The Third Chimpanzee and the wonderful Guns, Germs and Steel, makes his first drafts by hand. I haven't been going that far, though even now, important pieces of writing need a hand-made diagram before I start writing, or, at least, before I start writing in earnest.

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