Sunday, September 26, 2004

The Third Discipline

The third discipline that Senge describes in The Fifth Discipline is shared vision. As professional writers we often think of our personal vision, "What do I have to say?" However, I think our growth as writer-researchers will really come when we start asking the question, "what do I want to create with my audience?" Once a writer starts focusing on this question, the writing process becomes a rhetorical process--a process of the joint creation of meaning. Not just the writer having her say, but the readers having their say also.

Although this vision is shared, it doesn't come from "outside" the writer. All visions worth creating are centered within the personal aspirations of the writer. As Michael Nielsen writes in the article I Linked to in the previous blog: "The foundation of effective research is a strong motivation or desire to do research. If research is not incredibly exciting, rewarding and enjoyable, at least some of the time, then why not do something else that is?"

Too many times in our lives, we miss this point. For "practical" reasons we take on work which is not only unfulfilling, but actually destructive to the personal vision we hold. Now there are perfectly legitimate reasons to work jobs that aren't the "jobs of our dreams," but even work taken on to support self or family needs to be aligned in some way with your vision--if not, it will suck the life out of you as a writer.


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