Harriet Schwartz over at The Encouragement Lounge and I have been co-authoring a book chapter, and our recent versions of the chapter have involved less actual writing and more of what I am fondly referring to as the “humpty-dumpty” method.
When I humpty-dumpty an essay / article / chapter, I quite intentionally de-stabilize it and push it off the wall. In doing so, I take it all apart (crack up that old egg) and I put it back together again, differently. Unlike all the king’s horses and all the king’s men, when I’ve done it well, I end up with a whole new egg, one without cracks or leaks, one that will keep organized the yolk and white on the inside, one that will be, well … coherent.
Other writers may call this process “revision” — the act of re-seeing what you’ve written in order to write it differently, in order to write it better (a different process, of course, than editing). But I like to call it the humpty-dumpty method because I don’t always know what I’m looking for — what it will look like — until I actually crack it into pieces and start re-assembling it, piece by piece, checking for fissures and ensuring strength along the way.
The humpty-dumpty method for writing is worthwhile; even if you take that egg all apart and put it back the way it was, the exercise is typically beneficial because you’ve thought it through more so than you would have had you not humpty-dumpty’d it.
Now only if I could afford to practice the humpty-dumpty method with my kitchen. You see, we have this little crack in the ceiling … and in fact, we may need all the king’s horses, men, and then some to deal with it: