For everything there is a season

I’m trying to make use this fall of helpful cycles in writing. I can’t possibly write 2000 words a day every day and have them be valuable and useful to my project. But I can write 2000 words a day for two weeks, if I’ve done the prep work, which includes plenty of freewriting, reading, notetaking, abstract writing, and outline writing.

I’m currently in a prep phase, and will need to shift into “real” writing soon. In the three other iterations of this chapter (which have all failed miserably in one way or another), I spent some time preparing, but not nearly enough. I was writing early. Especially this summer, writing early was not the answer. The draft actually got worse, and not the kind of “it needs to get worse before it gets better”–it was just worse.*

So now I’m attempting to put in the time reading and doing preliminary writing so this draft has the argument and quality it needs. It’s slow going, but everything’s beginning to coalesce.

The hardest part about doing the preparation work well is watching the deadline approach without having thousands of words on paper in draft form. I’m having to trust the process and will away panic. Not only that, I have to trust myself–my scholarly abilities, my ideas, my endurance. Some days that’s easier said than done. But I have some amazing cheerleaders and some good habits, and those carry me through.

*My advisor’s comments actually included portions he cut and pasted from comments he made two years ago that I hadn’t addressed, or had addressed and taken out again. Sad, sad, sad.

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