Not the best lyric line perhaps, but it does focus on the point I want to make. And that is – when you write and edit in chunks, it can be an extraordinarily useful process to get any writing done successfully.
That’s because your focus is on a specific segment of work. You’ve set out the parameters, or borders, and told yourself, this is the area I am going to concentrate on. You’re not dealing with either what comes before, or what comes after. Only what’s in between. Connecting can be done later.
What is a chunk?
I define a chunk as a section of writing that I want to look at as a whole – that seems to have logical bookends to it. Usually, this chunk is causing some kind of problem, it’s bugging you, and the sooner you fix it the better. The chunk mustn’t be overly long otherwise you won’t be able to give it the attention it deserves. That eliminates a whole chapter to a book, or a complete essay, or a review of a movie or play. At the same time a chunk can be very small. It might be a couple of sentences, or a single brief paragraph. The one who decides, of course, is you. Here are some thoughts that might help you make that decision.
A particular section doesn’t want to come together. You’re battling it, it’s fighting back. You love one part of what you’re written, yet for some reason it doesn’t fit with something else and you have to resolve it. That’s where chunking – dealing only with that section – can be so productive.
You have a couple of sentences that just don’t convey what you want to say. As individual sentences they work fine. When placed together they work against each other and you feel stymied. You read what you’ve written out loud and they clash. It’s not coming across.
Working in chunks grants you permission.
That’s right. You’re not locked in to what’s currently on the page. You can play with it. You can try things out. It may take you in a different direction. It may give you fresh insights as to what works and what doesn’t. But most importantly, you get the chance to resolve one particular segment of writing that just isn’t working. For the moment, just get this right. Don’t think about what comes before or after. There’ll be opportunities to fix that later if necessary. When you focus like this, you get clarity. In my experience it invariably makes your work better.
Chunking works for all kinds of writing. If you’re a student in college or high school, try it. If you’re developing a proposal to bid on a job, try it. If you’re writing a novel or a movie script, try it. See where it takes you, see what insights it provides. And remember. Play with it. Give yourself permission. You might be happily surprised at where chunking takes you. You’ll find more on chunking in Ten Steps to Help You Write Better Essays & Term Papers.