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A student in my Wednesday night NYU class complained this week that his sentences are short and choppy, like sound byte texts. Everything shorthand, no full sentences or ideas, as I am demonstrating here. And he can’t seem to stop or change or shift into any other gear so that he can cruise into a longer sentence, a paragraph, or a page of sustained story. Apart from turning off electronic devices and/or never using them again, or using them only as needed, could I offer a realistic solution? I suggested he follow his intuition—turn off all electronic devices including the TV—and read all day long for days and days and days. Of course, he might need to abscond from his job and/or sequester himself in his apartment and/or take a trip around the world. Possible? Maybe.

It’s strange that my students never complain about this suggestion; they are longing for it. Even at the beginning of term when I suggest keeping notebooks and journals in longhand, they don’t object. Well, not entirely, perhaps. One or two might object. But then they get into it. The journals thicken, they have heft, they satisfy all our senses, and they slow us down.

There is no way to achieve precision and glory in our sentences unless we slow down.
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