A Response to Kyle D. Stedman’s “How Slow Driving is Like Sloppy Writing”

I will state quite directly that I did not resonate with Kyle D. Stedman’s “How Slow Driving Is Like Sloppy Writing” (2011) and its pathos of a frustrated driver. That said, it did resonate in modeling behavior and use of literary devices. I found more benefit from observing Stedman’s use of experiences as sources, rather than what he communicated about using sources. This to me was follow by example rather than “do as I say, not as I do”. Suddenly this might seem like a potential violation of Stedman’s “Am I in the Right Movie?” (249), given the question put forth by the professor.

Insights are often troubling to present, and one may be inexperienced in presenting the new and novel rather than the old and established. It’s difficult, hence why scientists are not the politician, nor the marketer. Communicating insight and innovation is different. In this way, I found Stedman tried diligently in providing signposts to identify behaviors to better control and regulate that of communication, the written word. To bring it to academia, this effort is praiseworthy, because while it is easier to practice reporting what is known by a field, I know from experience that reporting what is unknown to a field is a different route off-road (no pun intended) entire. Sticking with Stedman’s road theme, this comes with a new set of driving habits as one’s audience, as passengers, are in unfamiliar terrain.

I would encourage a reader to step back and view Stedman’s behavior in modeling his own use of sources. Professor Coleman asked, “how the article might change the way you use outside sources” (emphasis added). That little word “might” is interesting1, and I can certainly communicate that the article has contributed to changing the way I used sources. These changes are currently evidenced in submissions for PSYCH-328 here at Washington State University. There are three areas that conditioned greater arousal and reactivity, without trauma, to certain internal behaviors during composition. The first two are connected by lingering echoes of imposter syndrome, due to both socioeconomic and dysfunctional environments as a child and young adult, then maintained in environments of peoples who had survived the same. The third is connected to a strange habit that has been in play since childhood. It had come into great fruition in an executive role growing Wheelhouse Digital Marketing Group (Wheelhouse DMG), a digital marketing company, from about eight to fifty people in a short amount of time: maxims.

The first area of improvement is that it is ok to use internal language in communication. This may be anxiety inducing because it is tied to vulnerability. There is no doubt about an avoidance of sharing being a result of both imposter syndrome and dysfunctional conditioning. Having an example of a professional writer using his own experiences categorized by internal language gave a credible example; it is acceptable (though I agree there are limits [e.g., referencing the old and established]). The second area was in Stedman’s use of citation and research within his own paper which helped trim a bit of “I Swear I Did Some Research” (252) behavior. It would be disrespectful to leave out that this had been messaged prior, in life. At Wheelhouse DMG, I was on the executive leadership team with our President, Aaron Burnett. One day after repeating a maxim that I continually used, and cited, Aaron said, “you don’t need to do that anymore, it’s yours now,” in reference to citing the maxim. That made a huge impression, and things that my marital arts teacher passed to me, are now mine, and will soon belong to the next generation. That said, I still cite often, but in some cases now less so. I think Stedman arrived here, in a more circuitous route, in addressing what I would call credibility signaling via, “I Swear I Did Some Research!” (252).

Finally, onto the third area, and a favorite. Relying on maxims such as, “manage process, not people,” is ideal for it clarifies not only vision, but execution. While Stedman’s statements are aphoristic, I do find them easy to make into maxims by simply introducing actionability. For example, “Dating Spider-Man” (246) could be “Don’t Date Spider-Man”, though quite frankly that might be quite a date, and I’d be up for it daily! Another for example is “Armadillo Roadkill” (244) which could use a call to action such as “Save the Armadillo”. Finally, a neat one is “No Need to Swear Research” (originally “I Swear I Did Some Research!” [252])—notice how that was done? Aphorism turned maxim is of great utility. These kinds of literary devices compress time-to-value. Perhaps through this practice, one may catch maladaptive writing behavior in-flight, remove maintaining reinforcement, extinguish developed habit, and allow time and resources to build new behaviors, more effective.

I hope this was beneficial, and I’d like to thank the English department at Washington State University for providing the course material through which this was covered, experienced, and realized. Thanking the audience is important, besides, no need to throw our fellow living beings under a bus, regardless of what lane that slow moving bus is in. That’s how life rolls—and that rolling is more effective when signaling one’s intent beforelooking. Allow the reader the space and time to accommodate the experiences of the writer, but do not throw the reader through the windshield.As Herbie Hancock once said, “don’t play the butter notes,” and for the astute, it was Miles Davis that told that to him. Sometimes “where did that come from?” is necessary to set up the right amount of dissonance, just like the start of Stedman’s article. Now onto the next tower’s edge in erotic fitting clothing.


1 The etymology of interest, is inter- and -est. This quite literally means, “between”, “to be”; a going between.

2 “Don’t throw them off the deck” is a maxim wherein a business leader is careful not to change the direction so quick to throw the staff and customers off the “deck” of the business.

Works Cited

Stedman, Kyle D. “Annoying Ways People Use Sources.” Writing Spaces, Readings on Writing, vol. 2, edited by Charles Lowe, Zemliansky, Parlor Press, 2011, pp. 242-256.