Elisabeth Gilbert, storyteller

How to deal with the pressure of being expected to repeat an inspired performance? Elisabeth Gilbert, author of the international bestseller Eat, Pray, Love and the lesser known, but delightful Stern Men (my review and podcast), says divine inspiration may or may not come again, but that shouldn’t trouble you. “Just continue to show up for your part of the job.” Fits in with what I was saying a few days ago: It’s not about you.

IT and content

It’s very interesting working as an intermediary between the low-tech EFL teaching and writing world and the high-tech IT world. Very different things are important to the people working on either side of that great divide, and they have little understanding or patience with the concerns of the other side. I think the people in IT have a harder time, because if something doesn’t work, well, it doesn’t work, and everyone can see that. No place to hide. It’s showtime 24/7. At first glance, writers have a lot more leeway: The difference between a well-written and a badly written text or test/poll is diffuse and the effect can’t be registered immediately.

But that’s just level 1. Because the effect of good or bad work only emerges over time, and that’s true for the technical and the content side of things. IT can work well enough, but can still be really lousy, because it limits thinking or doesn’t allow the intuitive approach to structure most producers of content need. And going from “functional” to “facilitating” is a real challenge. Likewise, producing content to really use the possibilities IT provides, thinking about the “web life” of content and how people will be using it in the greater context of things requires writers to really refine their output … and start talking to IT!

I can’t wait to see the site I’ve been involved in go live and to watch how it’s used and think about how we can improve it :-)


I teach essay writing, and have found the following summary to be very helpful in getting students to think about their arguments:

Fundamentals for logical analysis
1. Always remember never to say always and never (and all and none, and everyone and nobody). Reasonable thinking should be reflected in reasonable language. All-inclusive statements can rarely be proved. Qualify and specify.
2. Even if you are sure that one thing is the cause of another, it may not be the only cause. Be careful not to oversimplify.
3. Suspicious words like “undoubtably” and “obviously” are often followed by hasty generalizations and oversimplifications.
4. Any opinion you have must be qualified and specified, and must be supported completely with facts, examples, or personal experience.

Joy M. Reid, The Process of Composition, p. 101 ff.