Thursday, February 16, 2012

Strategies: Overcome the "Settling In" Time Warp

It has typically taken me 30-45 minutes to settle in each morning at the beginning of my daily writing session. However, throughout my dissertation writing process I have implemented a bit of advice that changes this aspect of my writing regiment. Thomas has offered this advice in a number of different forms, but I'm passing it along to readers of this blog who may not have heard it:

Plan what you will do in any given writing session the day before you sit down to write.

This strategy means that when I finished writing this morning, I stopped to think for a minute about EXACTLY WHAT I NEED TO DO TOMORROW, and then I wrote these things down. "Write two more paragraphs" or "finish chapter" are bad plans. You need to be specific. I wrote down:

"Write one paragraph close reading of first 'ring' passage"

"Write one paragraph close reading of Dylan's and Mingus's pre-college / pre-prison escapades"

"Write one paragraph that charts the movement of the ring throughout the rest of the novel"

Now when I sit down tomorrow morning to write again, just like I do every morning from 8am-11am Monday through Thursday, I can turn to the first ring passage in the novel I'm analyzing, reread it quickly, and write my analysis of that scene.

This strategy converts a big chunk of nothing-time into actual writing. Now it might take me five minutes to really get in the chair, take a deep breath, resist plugging into the internet, open the document, go directly to where I need to write, and turn to the text I'm working on. WRITE WRITE WRITE!

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