Writing Actions: Responding and mirroring

Responding and mirroring should help you get in the mood for writing, by engaging with other texts. Read a text of the format in which you are writing (for example, if you are writing a report, choose a report, if a magazine article, choose a magazine article) and write an informal critique of it. If you could ask the writer questions about it, what would you ask? What do you think could have been done better in the document? Rewrite a section to improve it. What is particularly effective in the document, and why? If the document asks a question, answer it. By responding this way to the text, you are building motivation and direction to work on yours. This technique is also called ‘mirroring’, a term from the world of acting. Trainee actors learn to perform by reflecting in their behavior what they observe in a partner responding to a smile with a smile, to a frown with a frown, etc. This is based on the idea that any form of action is also, by extension, a form of communication, that is, it is meaningful in relation to a context and a set of participants. Clearly, then, this is relevant to writing too, and can fruitfully be exploited as a ‘warm-up’ or ‘unblocking’ technique.

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