While playing the believing game–setting aside doubt and overly critical comments–is crucial during the writing process, playing the doubting game is equally important, especially during the latter stages of the writing process. Successful writing partially rests on being critical and reflective about your rhetorical situation, the quality of your evidence, and the best way to organize a document for reader. Other doubting game activities include: Organize, Focus, Invent, Format, Edit, Revise, and Publish.
Regrettably, there is no simple formula for determining when you should play the believing game versus the doubting game. In general, successful writers emphasize believing over doubting during the early stages of a writing project, although overemphasizing the believing game can be problematic. If you launch into a project without first stepping back and Think Rhetorically, perhaps even pre-writing and collaborating, then you may set off on a fruitless journey. If emotion and positive thinking overwhelm skepticism and critical thinking at the early stages of the writing process, you might find three weeks later or even a semester later that your essay fails to successfully address a professor’s assignment.
The video to the right of this passage provides a nice illustration of the quandaries a writer can face when trying to decide whether evidence is credible or possible. In this example it appears as if the man successfully shoots out of a waterslide into a small pool of good distance away. Thanks to Myth Busters, though, we know the video is fraudulent!