writing's unnecessary obstacles

Bernard Suits notes that games are structured around unnecessary obstacles. Think, for example, of the rule in bowling that prevents you from just walking down the alley and knocking over the pins. If you want to "bowl" you have to accept certain obstacles. So I've been thinking about writing similarly as a practice where one takes up unnecessary obstacles as well.

We can think about these obstacles in two ways. First there are the obstacles that we select in the way that we decide to play a game. So when one chooses to write in a particular genre or for a certain audience, one selects obstacles. True, those obstacles may not be as well-defined as those in a game and we may not always be completely free in such choices, but the point is that they are obstacles that come along with the identification of a particular writing task. Secondly, there are the obstacles that we encounter through writing. I know this happens to me all the time. I think I know what I am going to write and argue, but then as I actually begin to compose, something emerges…. a problem, an opportunity, however you want to think about it. Sometimes it is an obvious problem that I must address if I want to continue along the line of thinking I've begun. Other times, it is more like a fork in the road, an issue that I could safely choose to ignore in the sense that my audience would probably never take up the issue I've overlooked or say that my argument is incomplete because I failed to address it. By choosing to take on such unnecessary obstacles however, I unlock new discoveries and abilities for myself, much like in a game though obviously in a less formalized way.

I almost always choose to take up the obstacles I discover as through them my writing is energized. In fact, you might say that I write to discover those obstacles. 

In any case, this issue is part of what I'll be discussing at C's later this week. 

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