Paste number 147662: naggum

Paste number 147662: naggum
Pasted by: noobmuffin
When:7 years, 9 months ago
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| Now I'm curious. What kind of tools are you using to speed up your | writing? Am I in error to hope it is some clever use of some emacs | built-ins? If you wouldn't mind sharing, I -- for one -- would really be | interested in learning about other peoples techniques to improve writing | efficiency. (Me, I have a hard enough time just thinking my opinions | through and formulate them understandably that writing speed doesn't | really matter, but I /am/ curious.)

my tools are not in a publishable form and they are highly personalized as they have evolved over the past 6 or so years, so sharing is not an option, but perhaps helping others build something similar can be a worth-while task. however, understanding the thinking process of another writer is a truly painful task. e.g., I worked with SGML from 1989 through 1994, and one of the many reasons for me to get out of SGML was that authors are _not_ structured when they write. modern authors write their sentences in everything but a linear fashion, which they had to when their writing implements required it. our languages have mainly evolved according to what is easier to read and hear, and fields such as rhetorics have formalized some of the properties of persuasive arguments that take a significant amount of effort on part of the writer to achieve. it is therefore important to understand how the writer has to "bend his thinking into shape" in order to fit the desired end result.

it is common for authors to write an order of magnitude more on any given piece than actually gets published, and this was much worse before computerized text processing. well-honed writing is exceedingly difficult and takes a lot of pain and effort. especially brevity. most people type slow enough that it pays off to spend the effort on brevity before typing, but others (such as me) don't, and find it much easier to type at very high speeds and then remove or reorder text that doesn't fit what they really had in mind afterwards. this tends to make the writing process much different from what one learns at typewriter courses and such, and making mistakes that are trivial to correct is _part_ of the speed typing process. e.g., the text in these two paragraphs were typed directly into Emacs and before I have stopped to edit it, I have typed an average of 21.3 keystrokes per second. I was probably slowed down by being conscious of the fact that I was measuring my typing speed, too.

my highest-frequency mistake is to omit words that I think I have typed before I actually have, and the second most frequent mistake is to let a word that ends like the next word begins just continue into the next word. this is a bit more frequent in Norwegian than in English, because we have different suffixes than English does. now, what's curious about this latter part is that it can be fixed with abbreviation tables. so can the curious tendency to write the letters of some words consistently in the wrong order, probably simply because of timing issues on the qwerty keyboard.

apart from this, I have written Emacs Lisp functions to make a statement into a question and vice versa, to join and split sentences (not quite as trivial as it sounds), to upgrade from singular to plural and vice versa, to change the person from second to third and vice versa, et cetera. significant parts of grammar is the way it is to maintain correspondence between numbers and persons and tenses and such, and since this is mostly redundant, it can be also automated. this is stuff that takes just a bit of time to do, but when a whole paragraph of text needs to be changed from second person singular or from third person singular to third person plural, it's nice to do that with a couple keystrokes. it's also nice to see that the pronouns are easily traceable to their origins, and don't get messed up in several layers of references. if my code can't figure it out, chances are so won't anybody else, at least not easily.

now, some would argue (vociferously) that if you can't write it down correctly to begin with, something is wrong with you and you shouldn't be writing at all. however, that is not the issue. the problems do not occur until you start to change something you have already written, and you need to _maintain_ the correspondences that are already there. that is, changing a "he" to "they" requires some changes to the rest of the sentences, as well, and getting _those_ right is just a lot of menial labor that no one should have to do.

don't know if this helped or not, though.


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