500 Words

500 Words isn’t many really.  For those that are about to start NaNoWriMo this is a ridiculously low target as they have to aim at a hundred times that number of words.

But in a five hour session today it’s what I’ve managed to achieve in my PhD.  And I feel pretty pleased with that.

Any writer of any kind, be it academic, business, blog or creative writing will know that there are some sentences that just form themselves.  From brain to keyboard, there’s almost a magical connection, and no number of tweets, facebook status updates or email/chat/IM messages will distract them.  There are other times when you positively crave an interruption of some sort, and if one doesn’t appear, then you will manufacture one.  The late, great Douglas Adams was an expert at procrastination when writing, and the fourth Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy novel was written in the space of a month in a hotel suite, with his then-editor on the other side of the room allowing him breaks only for the occasional jog around Hyde Park.  His book is dedicated to her, and the Paul Simon album ‘One-trick pony’.

And so it is with me.  To some extent I have a limited number of ‘easy’ bits left to do in my writing up.  I need now to really analyse the information that I’ve coded, look at the quotes from my participants that at the time seemed really important and identify how much of their voice comes through in the ‘Findings’ chapter, and whether my whole approach (Luhmann’s Structural Coupling being as you didn’t ask) works, and works for me.

I’ve got lots of headings, and sub-headings with lots of blank text underneath.  All I have to do (!) is fill in the gaps, add a few charts and diagrams and a generous smattering of references, and I should be sorted.  Well, I would love it to be that easy, but a 50,000 word thesis is much more than 5 x 10,000 word documents, something that I tried to comfort myself with early on in this process.

I know I’ve taken a four-month gap, but I look at my tracking spreadsheet, that shows what I was doing this time last year, and it really doesn’t seem a year ago since I was working on that particular section.  I guess that is a good thing, it means it’s still fresh in my own mind.

But it’s my supervisor that’s the ultimate judge (at this moment) on my work, and I’ve sent off a complete ‘thesis to date’ this morning.  Let’s hope that the feedback I get next week is both supportive, and critical.

And this post, that’s taken less than 20 minutes to produce is now touching 450 words, which probably shows how little I’ve really done the rest of today.  Ah well, tomorrow is another day.

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