book writing, day five

The brain is a wonderful thing. I woke up this morning knowing what was wrong with our first chunk. I’d been feeling dissatisfied with it since we started, but hadn’t been able to put my finger on what the problem actually was. So it was very gratifying to wake up with both the problem and the solution. Finding these missing pieces also alleviated my anxiety about there not being enough words yet, as there will now be quite sufficient in this section.

What was even better was that when I told Barbara what I thought we should do, she agreed. As it happened, she had also been working overnight. She’d started on a new poem, about writing as it turns out – and it might end up in the book too. Well, why not.

Having agreed what we were to do today, we had a quick bowl of muesli, fruit and yoghurt and got down to it. Oh yes, still in pjs of course. We put in a solid four hours, largely with Barbara at the keyboard, and doubled our word count from yesterday. 3000 plus new words on material we hadn’t put in the other books, and words that we hadn’t even realised we’d needed yesterday.

So what was this new stuff? Well it was about the many things you have to do to at the start of your PhD – organising your space, time, software and using writing as a means of reflecting on the research – generally getting your life organized. If you don’t get these things sorted at the start then you pay for it later. (Yes doc researchers, it includes my well known “You must get bibliographic software” rave!) These kinds of ‘everyday life’ matters often feature on blogs about academic writing and/or the PhD, and are often highlighted in stories about creative writers. The physicality and materiality of academic writing however is less often put in #acwri books, but it is now in ours.

We finished in cracking time this morning and were able to get down to lunch at something like a reasonable time. Today we decided to try out a Thai restaurant which had had reasonable web reviews. We were assaulted by a very hot and salty tomyum soup which left us both gasping and in need of frozen yoghurt to finish off. A mandatory quick trip to the supermarket to refresh our supplies of grapes and jackfruit and then back to the apartment and the laptop to make some small additions to the morning’s text.

Later in the afternoon I went off to have coffee with a colleague from our Malaysia campus while Barbara sweated in the gym and dodged the mosquito fogging.

Tomorrow we expect to finish off the first chunk. Tonight we will wrestle – again – with the rather disappointing television options available to us, but will probably end up reading – again – rather than watch more predictable American killing sprees set in apparently identikit state capitals.

About pat thomson

Pat Thomson is Professor of Education in the School of Education, The University of Nottingham, UK
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6 Responses to book writing, day five

  1. lenandlar says:

    Thanks for sharing.
    I have one question. How do you deal with a supervisor who keeps saying at the very start that “it is your PhD” – meaning to, or could be implied as “i have no time for you”?
    Perhaps the bigger question should be “why have such a supervisor”?


  2. lemexie says:

    Inspirational. Incidentally, the brain being a wonderful thing point – lots of “system 1 system 2 conflicts” come across from your blog – covered in book I’m currently reading – Kahneman, D (2011). Thinking, Fast and Slow . Penguin Books Ltd. Keeping a check on the fast natural intuition/impluse (system 1) to allow slow calculation (system 2) to work.


  3. Kerry Kavanagh says:

    ‘You must get bibliographic software” rave! – wished I’d taken this advice earlier in my PhD! Loving these posts even though I am very ‘post’ thesis. Making me feel quiet nostalgic!


  4. It is really helpful to read about the physical process of writing for me as I’m just beginning to start academic writing again after a long time. The bibliographic software bit I’m already learning is essential as having written up my assignment I now can’t find a crucial source that I want to use..sigh! Do you have any recommendations?


    • pat thomson says:

      A lot of people swear by Zotero. I’ve used a mendeley a bit and don’t like it. I’m an Endnote user myself but lots of people don’t like that. I’m just used to it. What are you studying?


  5. Pingback: book blogging interlude – turn around when possible | patter

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