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In the chapter the six steps to successful writing, Ahrens states that there are different types of attention:1

  • Focused attention, which we can sustained for short periods of time
  • Sustained attention, used for learning, doing, understanding
  • Floating attention
  • Attention for planning
  • Unfocused attention

Except the first two, it is my understanding that the others are poorly supported by the literature and are just a poetic way of framing the method.

What is interesting is to point out that for writing we could use different types of attention depending of the task at hand, or the opposite, we could do different things depending on the attention we could pay in that particular moment (see: low friction working).

Generally speaking, we can identify different tasks that a writer must accomplish (they are not ordered, but they all can happen at any stage):

  • Creating an outline to support the overall structure
  • Writing the the text down
  • Editing (i.e. looking for logic gaps, spelling mistakes, etc.)
  • Reading
  • Playing with notes

Ahrens justifies the different types of attention as those needed for each one of the tasks at hand. I have always tried split writing from editing, but never considered the other tasks as part of the whole writing process. I also didn't frame it as an iterative process, although I practiced it iteratively.

Tags: #attention, #mental-activity, #writing,

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Aquiles Carattino
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