Tuesday, December 15, 2009

A Writing Day Experiment

Yesterday, I finished prepping a presentation for Wednesday in Bloomington, and completed a paper review for a peer-review journal. Which means that today is a writing day, but with a couple twists.

First, I plan to write at school, instead of at home. I'm almost always more comfortable writing at home, but school is very quiet these days, and my office there is a bit less cluttered than my office at home right now. I can bring to school a stack or two of research for the chapter I'm writing without fear of losing them among other papers on my desk.

The second twist - and this is a bigger one - I'm starting a chapter without having a clear idea of its structure; it may ultimately turn out to be two separate chapters, but I won't know until I get pretty far into it. Normally, when I sit down to begin drafting a new chapter for a book or a new article, it is already sketched out at a pretty high level of detail in my head. On this occasion, I have only the broad contours of what I want to write in my head. That should make the writing process both longer and more difficult. Perhaps that is why I've managed to put off starting this new chapter for so long - until today.

If I can make a good start today - get five or ten pages written - I would be elated. But there's at least an even chance that I will make one or more false starts before getting the chapter moving in the right direction. What's true of policy is equally true of the writing process: getting the direction right is job #1.

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