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The Peter Elbow Challenge

Peter Elbow discusses in Writing Without Teachers the developmental model on the writing process. His thought is to write it four times, not once, and try to help the piece evolve through these four versions.

Through these four re-visions, you work through four stages of the growing process:

  1. Start writing and keep writing. Don’t write well; write a lot and write fast.
  2. Chaos and disorientation - Proceed without a full plan or allow yourself to depart from whatever plan you have.
  3. Emerging Center of Gravity - Force yourself to sum up even if it doesn’t fit your material or seem to be right. In effect, these early summing-ups are centers of gravity but because they are so bad, they don’t feel like centers of gravity.
  4. Editing - Work your way up to the top with summing-ups, then work your way down again to clean and tighten things up. Every word omitted keeps another reader with you.