Seeing Better: The Analytical Habit of the Mind

The first chapter ‘Seeing Better: The Analytical Habit of the Mind’ emphasizes that the first step towards becoming a good writer is to keenly notice the nuances in the available material. Any writer could explain a given situation with using a host of adjectives. However, a good writer stands out by incorporating vivid specific details, thereby bringing the text to life. The next step would be to compare a given situation to another, to make the reader relate to experience on a deeper level. Identifying the nature of the whole experience to explain its impact on the larger scheme of things completes the description process.Explorative writing can be a very handy technique to enhance one’s train of thought, without worrying about linguistic correctness. Descriptive free-writing is a method allows one to write spontaneously, while focusing on describing details that we come across in our everyday lives. One of the most important aspects of writing is to develop a good idea from the observations that we make on a daily basis. Avoiding the use of “should” in one’s writing can help overcome the judgment reflex phenomenon that may put off readers. Focusing and detailing on the idea’s unique characteristics can help avoid opinionated phrases. Finally, one has to deeply understand the idea by asking repeated questions to arrive at a conclusion about the idea.One has to come up with a rough draft before it came be further improved upon. Making note of claims, interesting ideas, complications and evidence can help smoothen out the rough edges in the material (Rosenwasser & Stephen 2007). Writing is a continuous process; there is no bad time to start writing one’s thoughts as a good idea may sneak up from nowhere. Maintaining a notebook to write down random thoughts without any specific project in mind can help accumulate thoughts that are bound to be useful at a later point of time.The second chapter titled ‘What is analysis and How does it Work?’ offers an insight into the art of analyzing things by asking probing questions. A good writer needs to be conscious of the analysis process going on in his/her head, while trying to curb practices that stand in the way on an analyzing mind. One critical habit that needs to be ousted is the being judgmental on things, which help the mind to open to new thought patterns. Differentiating between what is important and what’s not, is essential to relate vital aspects in one’s mind’s eye. Furthermore, this also helps to eliminate unimportant facets from the scenario.Paying keen attention to detail will certainly pay rich dividends while carrying out analysis. One has to keep alert to recognize similar patterns and unusual phenomenon that emerge out of the analysis. The next step would be to look beyond the obvious, as things are not always what they seem to be. Sometimes, things maybe be implicit and may require deep inquisition, while hidden meanings may call for interpretation backed up by a strong theory. The same sequence of actions has to be repeated until one arrives at a strong thesis. One can consider writing to be quite similar to science since it involves constantly improving on an idea by obtaining evidence and critically re-examining its arguments.A good writer has to look for strands i.e., words and ideas that occur frequently in a piece of work being analyzed. Based on the aforementioned analysis, two sets of repetitive ideas are sensibly chosen and a paragraph is written based on it. This process is carried out to get a fresh look at the ideas and filter out pieces that do not fit together in the overall puzzle. Identifying opposing ideas, otherwise known as binaries, in the text helps to determine the central themes. The writing is then modified based on the recognized patterns and binaries to yield results.The third chapter ‘Putting Analysis to Work: Three Extended Examples’ tries to illustrate the process of building arguments based on analysis. The authors try to explain the fine line between interpretation, analysis and summary; analysis is developing an understanding based on observation, while summary is just summing up already absorbed ideas and interpretation is basically drawing a conclusion based on those observations.A popular painting called “Whistler’s Mother” is considered to understand the difference between summary and analysis. When one tries to summarize the painting, adjectives are used to distinctly describe its physical appearance. However, an analysis of the painting goes one step further by elucidating the symbolic connotations behind the painting’s color scheme, details and style. However, not everyone can agree to the results of the analysis since it is very subjective. Hence, a writer must present all observations as well as the plausible causes that support the analysis.An interpretation of the painting would explain the reasons and circumstances that led to the specific scene portrayed in the painting. However, one must also ensure that sudden unjustified interpretations are not made without any concrete supporting evidence. The validity of an interpretation also depends upon relative social and cultural acceptance. The interpretation can also vary depending upon the context on which it is analyzed. Hence, multiple interpretations may seem plausible based on the context preferred. If the author intended the right interpretation to be based on the reader’s opinion, it is known interpretive context. On the other hand, if the author only intended one unique interpretation for a given scenario, it is considered be a Fortune Cookie interpretation.The fourth chapter ‘Read: How to do it and what to do with it?’ suggests strategies to be an active listener and absorb more details from a text. Restructuring the text in one’s own words can help concentrate on keywords and look for new meanings for those words in the current context. The authors mention the importance of language to mankind and the part that ‘reading’ plays in our everyday interactions. Reading a text is most effective, when it is done by understanding the context and not assuming a single meaning for every word. Care should be taken to ensure that one’s reading is not based on personal transference.One is considered to have thoroughly read the text, if he/she could discuss it with other people by posing as well as answering questions without referring to it. Activities such paraphrasing and free-writing can help improve the quality of reading. Identifying various aspects of a text such pitch, complaint and moment can help getting more out the reading material. The pitch is idea that the author is trying to convey to the reader.Complaint is the argument or perspective that the author puts forward. Moment refers to the socio-cultural climate prevalent during the time period when the text was written by the author. Identifying these three aspects of a text is critical in understanding the real purpose behind the text. Paraphrasing x3 is a good way to deeply look for alternative meanings of sentences in a text, while a summary is a condensed version of the text that is used to identify the context in lengthy texts. One can use the context as well as knowledge gained from a text to other reading and writing tasks. This can help improve one’s analyzing abilities and make reading a continuous learning process.The fifth chapter ‘Linking Evidence and Claims: 10 on 1 versus 1 on 10’ attempts to explain the importance of evidence as a tool for examining and enhancing one’s ideas. One’s claim is mentioned in the thesis statement. A strong thesis needs to be backed up by concrete evidence comprising of facts and relevant data. Evidence and claims are interdependent, as one loses its significance without the other. The lack of either one of these crucial aspects can lead to weak claims or insignificant evidence.The myth about facts being able to serve as ready-made evidence is shattered by the authors, as facts needs to be first explicated clearly before they can be used to evidence to prove a claim. This is because facts can be easily misinterpreted based on the context and different individuals view things differently. Writing on one’s ideas need not necessarily be based on proving one’s claims, but also can be based on testing the validity of one’s claims by employing available evidence.Unsubstantiated claims in one’s work are a result of lack of evidence to backup conclusions. This can be eliminated by recognizing weak claims and adding more details to add substance to one’s ideas. A good writer must also be to differentiate claims from evidence to present a solid piece of writing. More importantly, one must also realize that an idea built around specific claims and adequate evidence is required to build a strong thesis. A fine writer must also be prepared to refine the thesis as ideas progress and evidence becomes more concrete. Moreover, a conventional paper based on a introduction, conclusion and intermediate three paragraphs is the best way to present the gathered ideas effectively.Works Cited PageRosenwasser, D & Stephen, J. (2007). Writing Analytically with Readings. Heinle.