Monday, September 10, 2012

Writing group: Week 2 and all's well

Well, week one of Dame Eleanor Hull's writing group has come and gone, and it turned out to be just the kick in the pants I needed. I got off to a bit of a slow start, but the knowledge I had to front up to the group with a progress report meant that by the weekend, I'd managed to pull my finger out and get some things done. So, here is a quick update and some new goals for this week.

Last week's goals were to:
- Review article draft for overall argument
- Come up with an outline for my proposal and figure out a basic structure/key themes for the historiography section

What I achieved:
I managed to get both of these done. Once I went back and reviewed the notes I've got so far on the secondary literature, I realised I already had a pretty good structure for the historiography section and just needed to do a bit of refining of key themes. I've also set up an outline for the whole proposal in Scrivener (this application is a godsend for anyone who doesn't write in a linear way). I'd been putting this task off because I didn't feel like I was ready yet to 'commit' to any particular approach. This changed once I accepted that the proposal is a work in progress, it won't be perfect first-up, and I can (and most probably will) keep changing it as I go through the writing/re-writing process. At least now I've got somewhere to start.

I seriously dragged my heels reviewing the article. I don't know why. I think I'm just kind of sick of it at this point! A glass of wine and a rugby test on the telly in the background (All Blacks v. Pumas) finally made the job palatable.

Lightbulb moments:
The very act of joining the writing group and formally setting weekly goals has made me a bit more self-aware about my writing process and work habits. This week, I had a couple of days where I wasted a lot of time dithering first thing in the morning because I couldn't decide what to work on first. I think this is just another form of creative procrastination but it's one that I find particularly aggravating because generally, I really hate indecisiveness and find it emotionally draining. So, over the last few days I've started experimenting with finishing the day by consciously leaving myself a specific task to start with the next day. I've tried a few different things so far, from the relatively easy (take notes on a secondary source) to the somewhat more intellectually challenging (freewrite for 15 - 30 minutes on a question/quote/conceptual idea related to my project), and I'm still not quite sure which works best. It seems to depend on what kind of mood I wake up in and what sort of dreams I've had. Some days I dream very productively - or rather, I have a very productive little drift through that dozy zone between being asleep and being awake, wherein all my disparate thoughts seem rather magically to coalesce. On days like that, all I have to do is jump out of bed and start writing. (I'm not sure what gets me into this zone, but damn, when I figure it out I'm going to bottle it!) However, I now know that if I don't actually have to expend energy deciding what to do first, I can get going faster and maintain better momentum throughout the morning.

This week's goals:
- Tidy up the draft and send it to supervisor/ co-supervisor for review. This means no more tinkering with the text but simply making it readable by putting in paragraph breaks, removing my in-text notes to myself etc.
- Complete one thematic chunk of my historiography section
- Draft the section covering definition of terms (This may turn out to be more involved that I originally anticipated, as it is taking me back into the theory stuff.)

No comments: