I found the article titled “A writing coach becomes a listener” in April 28 New York Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/29/books/william-zinsser-author-of-on-writing-well-at-his-work.html?pagewanted=allvery) interesting as well as very instructive.

The article introduces the profile, career and the latest activity of Mr. William Zinsser, a great teacher of writing and the author of “On Writing Well,” first published in 1976. I was also interested in the word, “stage of typed-out paralysis” in the following sentence in this article:

“People come to him in stages of typed-out paralysis, stalled, uncertain whether they have written too much or too little. He tries to help them organize their thoughts by condensing, reducing — learning what not to include.”

I imagine “the stage of typed-out paralysis” to be the stage of your typing-out fingers being frozen and your writing work stalled. I’m confortable with ‘typed-out fingers / hands,' or 'typed-out messages/ essays,' but I was hung up on the expression, ‘typed-up paralysis.’ Whether it's phisical or mental, can ‘paralysis' be 'typed-out' by hands phisically as the logic?

McMillan English Dictionary defines “type out” as: to write the whole of something using a keyboard.

Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘type’ as: write (something) on a typewriter or computer by pressing the keys, with an example ‘He typed out the second draft.’

Cambridge English Dictionary defines “type out” as: to use a computer or a typewriter, to make a copy of something in writing.

None of these definitions seems to give me a hint to make out what is exactly meant by “typed-out paralysis,” and again the question, can ‘paralysis’ be typed-out?

1 Answer 1


To be < verb >-ed out is a idiomatic phrasal verb means to have done something until you are completely spent and can't do it any longer.

You can be played-out, cried-out, practiced-out, etc. In fact this pattern has probably been employed by someone somewhere with just about every action verb a person can do. For example someone who's tired of dancing might announce, "I'm finished, I'm danced-out. I'm going home."

In this case the author is saying the person has typed so much that they can't type anymore- They're typed-out- or rather, some people he sees are more typed-out than others, but they are in some stage of "typed-out"-edness. And because they can't type any more their writing ability has become paralyzed, their thinking is unclear, they can't objectively decide whether they've typed too much or too little.

  • So, ‘talked-out conversation,’ ‘discussed-out meeting,’ ‘studied-out project,’ ‘paid-out debt’ ‘drunk-out party’ and 'sung-out song'are all acceptable? Apr 30, 2013 at 9:44
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    Studied-out student would be more appropriate, the project itself can't study. Similarly I would say sung-out singer rather than sung-out song as it's the singer that can't sing any more, not the song. I think the rest are fine. Apr 30, 2013 at 10:54
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    The idiom isn't generally used with things rather than people. A "paid-out debt" would be a debt for which payment has been sent out. I'm tempted, though, to call some excessively popular songs "sung-out," even if it's not strictly correct usage.
    – user32047
    Apr 30, 2013 at 10:56

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