Words in a Row

It is hard to believe it is Friday already! This week has absolutely flown by too quickly!!! In addition to regular work stuff, we had our annual Faculty Development Day on Wednesday and graduation rehearsal on Thursday. However, it has been a good and relatively productive week.
I am making reasonable progress on my first article for the summer. The journal to which I plan to submit it has a category for reflective essays, so I have written the material with that type of submission in mind.

This week I rediscovered the value of “words in a row.” I don’t know why I was even surprised by this, but in writing, it is really “words in a row” that is the key to accomplishing writing goals. I learned this mantra from a colleague when I was working on my dissertation. It worked for me then, so I knew I needed to revisit this approach.

You see, my natural approach to writing seemed to be something like this…

1. Think about the topic
2. Develop an outline – probably for the 10th time
3. Think some more about the topic
4. Review the submission criteria (again!)
5. Think about how much writing I would get done if I had a cabin where I could work
6. Look at the submission criteria of other journals (again!)
7. Think about the topic some more
8. Read something that may (or may not) be related to the topic area
8. Revise the outline
9. Clear off my desk
10. Think about how much writing I would get done if I had a condo at the coast where I could work
11. Think how painful it will be to get editorial comments back and possible rejection
12. Thinks some more about the topic
13. Look up some references — again!

Yes…I am beginning to see the problem and perhaps the reason my progress in writing has been less than admirable! I tended to spend so much time THINKING about what it is I want to write that I procrastinated on getting anything actually written.

So this week, I really focused on returning to that fundamental principle of “words in a row.” And guess what??? It really worked!!!!!! Once I could just overcome the inertia and start putting words on paper (or, quite literally, on the screen) the process started to unfold rather comfortably. I did not spend time to put look up exact citations or years of references, but rather put “XX” as placeholders. I worried less about the smoothness of what I was writing and just continued to put words in a row. As my dissertation chair used to say, it is far easier to edit than to write. And as I wrote, more ideas for the article came. The organization changed somewhat from my initial outline as I saw how it was fitting together a little differently than I envisioned. Perhaps most importantly, as I was writing, I wanted to keep writing! There was one day I continuously wrote for about 4 hours! That signified real progress to me!

Whereas I still have a lot more to write, I am pleased with what I was able to get done this week. And surprisingly, it all happened within the confines of my office or at my dining room table, not at a condo at the coast!

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