Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Did you publish (or write) today?

A few days ago, a friend of mine sent me a link to an article that appeared in that day's Chronicle of Higher Education. The article, by Rachel Toor, "Did You Publish Today?" reminded me of myself. It also reminded me of you.

The Chronicle's work is protected, so unless you have a subscription, you might not be able to access the article. If you have difficulty, let me know and I can email you a copy that I downloaded.

The article has some interesting points, though. We can't just sit and write dissertations (in our cases) 8-hours a day . . . fingers moving across the keyboards, brilliant thoughts pouring forth effortlessly. OK, maybe you can. I can't. The article goes into some detail about how much work goes into writing: research, organizing, cleaning desk space, . . . . there are so many things that are important to the process but they cannot be called "writing."

I'm often discouraged that I'm not producing text faster than I am. But there is still coding to do (in some cases), a little transcription still, some statistical preparation, and today? Today I scanned documents, and that activity took almost all day. Yet it is important work. It is work that is related directly to the dissertation, but that work might yield a paragraph of text, or, if I'm lucky, a full page.

But that's the nature of the work.

Take a look at the article by Toors. You'll be glad you did. And you can count it toward dissertation writing. :-)


Meagan said...

I need to resubscribe to the Chronicle soon, so I look knowledgeable when I go on the market.

Anyway, your post reminds me of a book I read not too long ago-- How to
Write a Lot by Paul Silvia. He's a psych prof, and his discussion is definitely most relevant to the social sciences, but the book is still very useful (short and to the point). The most important suggestion that I've been trying to adopt is to set aside devoted writing time every day. He writes every day from 8-10am. He doesn't allow anything to supersede that commitment. He advises against the binge writing method for a number of reasons. I know a lot of people do well with binge writing, but it's never been the best for me, so I'm liking the structured writing schedule. It allowed me to knock out my first data chapter draft, so I take it as a good thing.

But, to answer your question, No. I didn't write today. :)

Billie said...

Yea, Meagan, I need to resubscribe, too. The form is on my desk so when I go back to work on Monday, I'll go online and get it done.

I read Silva's book a few months ago, and I thought it was good. It was simple, easy to read, and it had some good ideas about how to NOT procrastinate.

I have tried to find an optimal time to set aside for writing, but I still haven't found it. I do tend to binge write.... when I get back from this short trip this weekend, I am going to try again to find that time. Thanks for the Silva reminder. :-)

Bionic-Woman said...

I'll add Lamott's "Bird by Bird" to that list. Also read the piece by Toor - and blogged about it instantly :-). Did I write today? I have every intention to. Good luck moving forward.

Billie said...

Yes, Bird by Bird ... a classic! ... without reading the book the reference makes NO sense ... but bird by bird.

Thanks for that reminder BW!

kayak kid said...

Amen to both Toors article (I enjoy her columns in general) and Lamott's book.

Last Thursday, I had to remind myself that research, reading, and library time are all part of writing as I found myself--amid the last week of finishing my diss--in the library for far longer than I'd intended.

Even amidst finding those "last few articles" and photocopying, I did find time to write. . .some.