Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Writing started at 10:37pm and proceeded thusly

I think this blog is the least consistent of any of my blogs. I post anything remotely PhD-related, remotely topic-related. And that's okay.

So that's why I just posted a link to another blog in my last post. Because I liked it so much I wanted to share it with people. And I'm always paranoid of forgetting things - whether that be references, data, random facts or just interesting blogs. So I'm trying to keep track of them. And you can only post so much on facebook and favourite so much on twitter.

Tonight I want to tell you about a site that my twitterers have put me onto. It's 750 words. It's simple, it's straight-forward, it's clear. All you do, all you're supposed to do, is write 750 words, or about 3 pages, a day. This is supposed to be a good thing for would-be (creative) writers. But it's also useful for journalling - and we ALL know people who should write things on a private site rather than publishing them to the world. Seriously people - write 750 words in a private place and THEN tell me things you still need to express in public! Sadly, I think you don't know who you are.

Anyway! How I'm hoping my use of the site is twofold:

1) Get into the habit of writing. If I can write 3 pages of anything every day, then by the time I get to writing my thesis I'll hopefully be in a good place and in good practice. Because if I can write 750 words of my thesis a day, it'll take 4 months to write my whole thesis. That's alright. Of course, it might not work that well because there's difference between spontaneous writing and polished academic referenced writing, but still. It's gotta help, doesn't it?

2) Develop ideas about my research in preparation for my thesis. Writing about my research leads me to different conclusions and points me in different directions than when I think about it, or do the analysis, or read the literature. Constructing an argument shows you where the holes are and helps you start to know how to fill them. It even just helps to practice the introduction. I don't mean the introduction to the thesis. But that bit you have to write and say over and over again ev-ry sing-gle tiiiiiime you write or present or speak about your thesis. I figure if I repeat it often enough it'll come out easier and easier and by the time somebody REALLY important that I want to impress asks me about my research, I'll be able to summarise it clearly and concisely! Yeah... I got my doubts about that entire sentence too. But you get the idea.

The other cool thing about 750 words is that it gives you awards for writing for successive days. After 3 days I got a turkey. Woo! I think the top is 'phoenix'. It'll be a challenge though - I'm not sure how long it takes to get there. The idea of going for months and months, writing every day, is a little daunting. I used to keep a diary, but not every day!

And it gives you statistics - headed with the title:

Writing started at 10:37pm and proceeded thusly

We should use the word 'thusly' more often. And it does some interesting analysis too - what are the words you've used the most? How long does it take you? How many distractions? Are you certain or uncertain? Do you write more about I, us, you or them? About the past, present or future?

Admittedly, not all that information is interesting (who cares whether I use more or less articles (('a', 'an', 'the')) than the world average?) or necessarily accurate (it keeps insisting I'm preoccupied with religion, and I have no idea where it got that from!) but there's something of interest there and it gives you something to track with your writing.

So that's that. Check it out. Good luck if you get into it!

1 comment:

  1. Subsequent to this, after writing 750 words for 2 weeks in a row, I suddenly realised I had nothing left to write about and so why continue? I still hope to use it to good effect when I have more to write about. But I got sick of stream-of-consciousness writing just to make the word count before I went to bed. I made it as far as flamingo this time, and maybe I'll get further next time. On va voir.