Writing is a strange activity, and I’ve been thinking about how I do it, and whether this is an efficient way to do it. I’m talking about so-called academic writing here, not the odd bit of lyric writing or blogging I do.
I was heartened to hear the other day from someone who has reached the dizzy heights of a PhD, that she spews everything that’s in her head onto the page, then sorts it out later.
I know someone else who makes notes neatly gathered under headings, then extrapolates and develops, so not a spare word reaches the page.
I scribble all sorts of interesting notes in a book, some of them have no relevance to my topic, they are just interesting to me. Some have a reference, some I forget to reference then have to scrabble about to find again. Some have come out of my head, tying my thoughts in to what I’ve read.
I hand write essays, first draft at least. I find the brain-to-hand connection imperative.
I just wrote about 1500 words to go with my quilt-as-essay research. This is way too much – I might as well have written a 5000 word essay rather than gone for the “negotiated alternative”. I wrote what I thought, which at first was about 500 words, but then a structure was imposed upon it, from my tutor. It tripled the count, but to be honest, I’m not sure the content has tripled. It certainly doesn’t need to… I don’t think. So out come the scissors again and I shall snip it up. There is something useful about the physicality of using real scissors rather than clicking and dragging on screen. I’ve been told my writing style is unnecessarily flowery for an academic essay, and I know I’m prone to repetition, particularly when I’m given sections/headings to write to, as some things fit more than one section, and because I can’t make a decision, I shove it in twice.
All the above rubbish has come about because someone has suggested that my quilt project could lead into PhD research. But the way I go about things seems ridiculously inefficient. If it takes me this long to work out the words for a relatively short essay, I’d be dead before the completion of a PhD. Old habits are hard to break though aren’t they?