Creating in Flow

The world of creativity—with a twist of rationality

Richard Dawkins Revises a LOT

Dawkins writes memorably about early life in 1st half of autobiography.


I recently read An Appetite for Wonder: The Making of a Scientist, which is the first volume of the autobiography of Richard Dawkins, celebrated biologist, author, and outspoken atheist.

Dawkins is an elegant and clear writer, and thus his few words specifically about his writing process were particularly fascinating to me. They reminded me of my own novel-writing (during the many revisions of which I came to believe that nearly every word could possibly be replaced by another word).

Here’s how Dawkins described his creative writing process:

Pretty much every sentence I write is revised, fiddled with, reordered, crossed out and reworked. I reread my work obsessively, subjecting the text to a kind of Darwinian sieving which, I hope and believe, improves it with every pass. Even as I type a sentence for the first time, at least half the words are deleted and changed before the sentence ends.

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If any of the foregoing leads you to read this refreshing memoir yourself, I suspect you’d be glad you did.

Copyright (2014) by Susan K. Perry, author of Kylie’s Heel

Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist and author. Her current focus is on the creative aspects of rationality and atheism.


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