Discussion last week suggested that even among members of this group, the “hard” part of writing varies considerably. We have a small sample size, of course, so I hesitate to draw any significant conclusions. We do seem to have some predictable divisions: the people I know to be in science agree about what they find difficult, which is not the same as those who have chimed in from the humanities side; and there are differences between grad students and faculty, between those working at institutions with high-teaching, low-research expectations and those at schools with higher research goals.
Obviously the same person, at different times in life, may fall into several of these categories. Personality, life experience, and institutional culture all contribute to our sense of what is “hard.”
When I was in college, lab work in the sciences was hard for me, although I did better on tests where I could apply theoretical and mathematical techniques. Still, those classes helped to deepen my devotion to logic and rigor: not a bad quality in itself, but I think that definitely slows me down now, when I’m working on the writing tasks I find “hard,” creating clear arguments. I can’t just associate ideas or put together a paper that appears to “flow”; I have to make sure that I have an airtight argument where one step leads logically to the next.
It makes me crazy.
But I call this “hard” in quotation marks because I don’t think this is inherently difficult. It’s just hard for me. And I think studying people who find argument easier could teach me something about how to do it. I think I can get better at this, and I’m trying to figure out how to do it, partly by harnessing my strengths.
I’m curious about what other people find hard. Post your comments! But let’s put off “easy” for next week, OK? I’d like to do a whole other post about “easy,” so think about that and make notes if you need to, but this week’s topic is “hard.”
Amstr: 1) complete a very rough draft of dissertation introduction, 2) outline the theory content of each chapter.
ComradePhysioProf: no goal posted. Still the last grant mentioned, I presume.
Contingent Cassandra: 3-4 short-medium morning sessions with the P conference paper/article/outline-in-progress. Progress on ancillary tasks as possible.
DEH: get a draft to my RL group.
EAM: contact my dissertation director and readers.
FeMOMhist: 500 more words.
GEW: Order the friggin book review! Read two chapters of philosophical foundations, and 10 pages of methods chapter.
Ink: make the revisions that I wrote in longhand.
JaneB: a) Smooth out the rest of the lumps into a rough draft. b) type all my notes into the outline of the Unexpected Paper. Keep using those little gaps!
JLiedl: Complete a draft of the grant application: CV, budget and actual research project. information.
kiwimedievalist: Finish this article.
Luo Lin: 1) Work one half hour each weekday morning. 2) Continue the writing and revising of the messy draft. 3) Write and submit conference abstract that has deadline next week. 4) Decide where to send a paper that got rejected last fall. Send it.
Matilda: (re-)read articles, start to construct my argument; write something everyday.
Nancy Warren: excused absence due to travel.
Rented Life: Read lots! The book is divided into three parts, so I’d be happy to finish part one this week. Actually re-read my own stuff and either expand or add new section accordingly–let’s say 5 pages of either editing or new writing.
Sapience: 1) Finalize any conference paper revisions, if necessary; 2) re-try to get the major expansion of chapter 5 researched and written.