Index Cards

Lamott makes it a habit of carrying index cards that she uses to record things she sees around her, both to gather content for her writing but also to stay connected with her fellow humans. She tells the story of her dying friend Pam who was trying to find a silver lining to her impending demise. Lamott offers the silver lining that “[Pam] wouldn’t need to see any more naked pictures of Demi Moore” and then made an index card with the following inscription: “Pammy Demi Moore.” (133) Lamott does acknowledge that some writers can survive just fine without the cards, but she uses them not just in her work, but to keep her little memories alive.

In “The Cognition of Discovery: Defining a Rhetorical Problem” Linda Flowers and John Hayes discuss the myth some writers abide by known as “inspiration” or “discovery.” They argue that a writer can only solve a problem that they create; there is no success in waiting for a problem to occur. Lamott’s method of index cards is extremely useful in this regard–for fiction and nonfiction writers alike. There is also an emphasis on the process of writing itself in this section. Chris Anson’s article, “Process Pedagogy and Its Legacy” traces the origins of the process movement from its early formalist ideals to later emphasis on the process rather than the product. Under Lamott’s advice, these index cards become an integral part of the process of writing.  Another theorist who would support this section of Lamott’s book is Peter Elbow; his use of expressionist techniques in the classroom are similar to this idea of note-taking and index cards.

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