Avoiding writing [by writing about writing]

I am trying the ‘Write or Die’ web app which Savage Minds shared a link for on Facebook. I like the idea of this program which prompts you if you stop writing, as I am somebody who both gets very distracted and can sit in front of the computer producing/ doing nothing. On the other hand, I doubt that this app will be the answer to my low productivity.

While I can write off the top of my head, I struggle to convince myself to sit down and compare the accounts offered by different authors. Perhaps this is more an issue of not writing useful enough notes, so when I come to write I am still not sure what I need to say. My other issue is that I struggle to convince my brain to switch into editing mode. Just the very thought of revisiting my own work can flick the off switch in my brian so I sit there motionless in front of the typed words.

One of the most daunting things with writing is being able to get everything in there. I am so critical when I read the work of others, and there is no way I can live up to those standards. Every account is incomplete, every explanation seems to involve simplification, and there is always the chance that I just need to read one more article/ chapter/ book by that particular author to be able to really provide a valid account of what they are saying.

Perhaps ‘Write or Die’ can be particularly useful for writing ethnographic description. I do need to review my notes, but I think I have developed a working knowledge when it comes to many aspects of my project and so it is often worth looking at my notes, putting them aside to write and then going back to check that nothing has been misrepresented and nothing major is missing. However, here again I face the problem of having notes that have not been sufficiently analysed so I do not have good writing notes to work off. I have sat down a few times to try to start coding, but I quickly abandon it feeling like I do not yet know what I am coding for. Furthermore, the very idea of then trawling through my full notes to check the accuracy of my writing is enough to put me off writing in the first place.

What might be the most valuable aspect of ‘Write or Die’ is the very real world reminder that plenty of other people struggle with writing too. I do need to work towards having a clearer picture of what I want my written work to say, and I do need to put together the notes that will make getting there possible. However, nothing replaces simply sitting down, not getting distracted, and writing the words.

Will this understanding form an impetus for action?

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