Andy Warhol once said, "The acquisition of my tape recorder really finished whatever emotional life I might have had, but I was glad to see it go. Nothing was ever a problem again, because a problem just meant a good tape. . . . An interesting problem was an interesting tape. Everybody knew that and performed for the tape. You couldn't tell which problems were real and which problems were exaggerated for the tape. Better yet, the people telling you the problems couldn't decide anymore if they were really having the problems or if they were just performing."
I feel the same way about word processing. It has killed whatever writing life I might have had. I shared this with my cohort last night - that recently, after my son brought home the plague and I was sick in bed, I spent a few days reading about dissertations, research, and picked up a pen and my research journal and just started writing and doodling. So many aspects came clear, focused, and settled for me. I could see my way forward, and as a result, I was going to build this into my nightly routine. Today, I got the best message from one of my colleagues.
I wanted to thank you for discussing your experiences about your ideas when you were ill. It got me to thinking about handwriting and how it is so helpful to disseminate ideas. I have been struggling with really clarifying my ideas. I know what I want to do to, but I can never nail down the precise language the way I would like to. I keep rewriting it in different ways, trying to make it click.
After hearing your story on Tuesday, I decided to keep a manual dissertation journal so I could get messy and be able to record my ideas in whatever form they arrive in...doodles, mind maps etc. As you spoke, I thought Jason is right, typing is so linear in nature, in some ways it was holding me back. So, thanks for the reminder, I am not there yet, but my messy writing journal has been helpful.
I am glad this insight turned out to be as useful to her as it was to me. Every night, before I go to bed, I re-write the purpose of my study as I understand it today, and any new thoughts that I have had regarding the project and what I want to know. Drawing today's mind map is also useful, because there are a lot of paths that I want to travel, but will not travel in the dissertation. I will make note of them - "Future research should explore. . . ." In my case, for example, as much as I want to explore the experience of online contingent faculty in Canada, especially those who teach at multiple institutions, I won't be doing that. Is it worthwhile? Absolutely, but I am not doing it. Why? Well that comes back to the journal. Write yourself that question again and again. Why? That's your justification. That's why this is included and this excluded. I hope I get to that study, but that will be after this one.
When I just write on the computer, it is a never-ending process of editing and self-censorship, or leaving things on the cutting room floor. To enjoy this process (and I really want to enjoy this process), I need to build activities that are more process-oriented and less product-oriented.