A reformed “late-night deadline-chaser” (see Dorothy's post below), I now try to have every text piece ready long before it is due, partly because people you owe writing to, like book review editors, appreciate when you are considerate enough not to force them to chase you down or put the fear of late submission in them, and partly because I know I need to step away for a while and get back to my writing with some distance if I want to do good editing. Easier to to kill your darlings when you've not visited them in a while I guess.
I came to EdJoWriWe with a thesis chapter outline, 5,000 words, 2 conference papers and over 50 Word documents full of secondary quotes lifted here and there and only potentially relevant to my argument.
Now I wish there was a software, an app, or a dark magic spell that would merge all of the above into one insightful, streamlined, and elegant text, but as we all know there already are such wonderful machines everywhere around us: brains. And I mean it in a non zombie creep kind of way. What we are asking our brain to do when we engage in research is to literally compute data and produce organised results. I guess when we're all androids there will be no need for research training anymore.
I came to EdJoWriWe to look for discipline and I found kinship.
20 PhD researchers, 4 classrooms with varying levels of noise tolerance, and an endless flow of cups of tea and platters of biscuits provide a haven for writing. We get to share tips and talk through what works and what doesn't, and to tap other people's invaluable experience. Research can be such a lonely pursuit it is easy to feel overwhelmed like you're the only person carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders and being sucked dry by the daunting task that befalls you. Particularly the bit about making a publishable original contribution to knowledge and so on.
I realise now that this post has veered towards the PhD process, but I'm here to get a chapter draft done, so it's pretty much what's on my mind from the morning when I step into George Square to the evening when I head home. Even in the middle of the night sometimes. Nearly halfway through my second year, it feels like I'm at that weird stage when you start shaking with terror at the mere thought: 18 MONTHS IN, 18 MORE TO GO, argh!
I came to EdJoWriWe with a document I hadn't touched in months and was quite fearful of, and by the end of the day I had 1,200 new words and a warm, fuzzy feeling of achievement.
At this rate, I'll have a first draft of between 15,000 and 20,000 words ready by Sunday. Thanks in part to the friendly environment of the retreat and to Dan Soule's inspiring workshop on Monday, where I learnt that you need to lose all your inhibitions when it comes to writing and silence that little voice and its running commentary along the lines of “Oi, it's full o' crap and you damn straight know it, struth!” (yes, my little voice is Aussie) Use violence if necessary.
So get yourself a cuppa, sit down, and, as a wise man once said, shuddup and write.