Thursday, August 28, 2008

Thinking Aloud About Writing

I was able to bring a long-term writing project to the 90% completion point yesterday. I still struggle with a writing "process" - mainly when my day seems to fly by with teaching and other professor-type duties. I am a morning writer - primarily because I feel like if I don't have any writing done by about 11am, I won't get any done.

I keep asking people how they find time to write and how they get it done. I know the first important point is to sit down and start doing it. The blank computer screen still intimidates me but this time I was able to approach it more like I tell my students to do with their big assignments - think of it like a jigsaw puzzle with lots of pieces. You can't put the pieces together until you have some on the table.

The topic of my most recent project was a very large and long-range subject with which I have been personally involved since 2001. So, finding the focal point was difficult. And I'm coming to realize you can't always do that until you've explored what seem like a million other avenues first. I worked on finding additional articles and sources on Tuesday - which really energized me to move forward - especially after I figured out I had done everything possible but the final narrative writing.

I also have to teach myself not to be afraid to be repetitive in the draft stage. Much of what I wrote yesterday was rewriting my "jigsaw puzzle pieces" from memory. Now I realize I was only able to do that because I put the jigsaw pieces on the table in the first place.

Then, I have to think about how I would talk aloud to someone - and also not go off on too many tangents - at least not without connecting it back to the original point and/or narrative of the story.

I work best with my dining room table and everything spread out but primarily only books, articles, papers, and notes related directly to the project at hand - otherwise, I get too distracted. I remember having to take solitaire off my computer when I was trying to revise the dissertation for publication. All of the sudden two hours had passed (and I had also won only a few games of solitaire without starting over) and I had no writing done.

I feel more creative on my MacBook Pro and even figured out how to print on my home network. Easier than expected to set up although I did have to restart my Desktop Windows machine to be able to print from it again. But, because I wrote on the Mac, I will have to check the file I transfer over to the PC for those annoying little "dingbats".

Now I'm going to go out an get some exercise and NOT get a flat tire 4 miles east of town 2 miles past the blacktop. And then I have a fun lunch planned.

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