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Writers go deep using OCR: Editor's Notes #341
June 16, 2021

There is a demeanour or a mindset of writers.
We observe; we consider; we record.

—Michelle Good

In this issue:

1. Writers go deep using OCR
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt
5. My Covid-19 offer to you

1.Writers go deep using OCR
The voice of Michelle Good, who had just won Canada’s Governor General’s Literary Award for Fiction, came through my radio last week and set off reminders and new ideas, proving her words (see the opening of this issue above) and giving me a great topic to share with you.

Good simply said that writers observe, consider, and record. Most of us do this as a matter of course. Some of us have learned techniques to deepen, extend, and keep track of the process. You may have learned one of these techniques, double-entry journalling, in school. With some tweaking of the process, writers can get the last drop of juice from what I am now calling OCR.

The original double-entry journal comes from education. Teachers assign reading. Students read, and when something strikes them as important or interesting, they record it, usually, in the school setting, copying the text on the left side of a paper that is divided in half vertically. The student considers the small piece of text and, on the right side of the page, records the thoughts or questions that the reading provoked.

I suggest expanding this beyond recording only the writing of others to include anything observed: things overheard, physical things noticed, dreams, news items, music, other art, basically anything that draws your attention. The power comes from close observation, so record whatever details seem important.

The next level of power comes as you consider what you observed. Questions help here:
  • What about this captured my attention?
  • Whom or what does it remind me of?
  • Is there a big idea linked to this?
  • What questions does this provoke in me?

But don’t be bound by the questions. Whatever you consider is what you put on the right side of the page.

Usually, this introduces the waiting time. Your observations and what you considered about them go into your subconscious mind to pop up again later. To take full advantage of the system, I recommend having a regular time to reread your entries, adding new things you have considered. I’ll leave it to you to decide how to link later thoughts to the original page. I date everything, so all I have to do is include the date of the original observation where I record subsequent thoughts.

This careful recording of your observations and thoughts about them become the deep mine of your writing, the report. This is where my process diverges most from the school-days version. My reporting is seldom recognizable to anyone other than me, and, sometimes, not even to me, as a report on what I’ve noticed. But what I write becomes deeper and richer as I make thought connections between the things I observe in the world around me.

As I thought about writing this issue, a passage leapt from a book with an instant connection, so I share with you what Jessica J. Lee wrote in Two Trees Make a Forest., illustrating the power of OCR, "…I have read it repeatedly in the last few days, as if in reading I might polish it like a stone. I’ve turned it over in my mind for weeks."

2.Tickled my funny bone
At an Optometrist's Office:
If you don't see what you're looking for,
You've come to the right place.”

3. Interesting Web site
Here is a short page with two examples of a double-entry journal. format/

4. Writing prompt
Take a piece of the article above or any other writing or event that captures your attention. Use the questions in the article and any others that occur to you to deepen your thinking about what you noticed. Then use the answers to the questions or the questions themselves as the basis of a short piece of writing of your own.

5. My Covid-19 offer to you
I recently received an email from a service I’ve used for eighteen years announcing that the company was the only one offering a discount during the pandemic and adding that the party was over and the prices were not only being restored, but were going up. As you know, if you you’ve been reading Editor’s Notes through Covid-19 times, I also reduced prices. Unlike the service I use, I will not be raising costs over pre-pandemic levels. But I will be closing this offer in September. Watch this space for more specific information. In the mean time, avoid the last-minute rush to get your sample edit more quickly by submitting your text as soon as you are ready.

What follows is a copy and paste from issue number 309. The offer is still in force for you and anyone you choose to tell about it.

Along with the health threat hanging over the world, we are facing a huge financial hit. I’ve decided one thing I can do is to make quality editing less expensive during this trying time.

For subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends, I am suspending the fee for the sample edit to anyone using the code EN19 until I cancel this offer. I intend to keep this offer open as long as the world is in crisis with Covid-19 and its aftermath, so watch this space. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer. You can submit your writing sample at Be sure to click the link below the heading "Promotion Code" to get to the special form for a free sample edit. If you find yourself at a form before clicking the special link, scroll slowly back up the page, and you should see the link for the code (EN19).

But it gets better…

When I return an edited writing sample, I include quotes for the full range of my editing services. Until further notice, I will give a true quote, but I will not charge writers the full amount. I am discounting my services 50% for subscribers to Editor’s Notes and their friends. I will give a warning here before I pull this offer.

Feel free to pass this offer along to any writing friends you think may be interested. As long as anyone uses the code, I’ll honour the offer.

This is what I can offer you in this time of crisis. I hope it encourages you as you face possible illness and financial uncertainty.

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