Freewriting Edition n: the five Cs in my writing

What I aim to achieve for my writing and how I’m going to address it:

Confidence
Before writing anything, I will start with “I want to….” (e.g. I want to tell readers about the publishers of this story) or put in a question to prompt my thinking (e.g. “What do readers need to know about the story?”). This tip has helped me so much with overcoming the writer’s block, as well as keep my thoughts from being disconnected when I had to take a break.

Because I start from what I’d like to communicate, rather than speaking from the third person, I feel that I’ve owned my messaging (which is manifested in my written words), which gives me the freedom to express it more easily.

Clarity
My writing is a reflection of my thoughts. So until I have clarity in my thinking, my writing will be murky, foggy and muddy.

Many people use mind maps, or list, or post-it notes to visualise their ideas very clearly. They will all help.

Now that I’ve realised this. Before I write anything with a computer, I will sketch on papers the key things I want to say and draw lines between each point. I will actually (re)plan out what the structure of my chapter or key points to be included in each section. In fact, I have a big wall of post-it notes with the structure of my thesis. And my handbooks are now filled with handwritten notes of what I want to say.

Coherence
I find this is one of many challenges with writing, especially dealing with (1) a large number of words (40k words for a Master’s thesis) which have been written (2) throughout a long period of study (2 or more years for a Master’s thesis). Somewhere along the way, something will get derailed very easily.

What I am trying to do now is always go back to my research questions, and make sure whatever written down will point back to the research questions. I would also like to finish the whole thesis, take a few days off and go back reading everything with a fresh mind. It sounds like an unbelievable luxury to have especially in the interest of time that I’m currently coping with.

The other tip I’ve learned (which I haven’t had any chance to do) is getting someone else to read the writing and critique.

Conciseness
No one wants to read something that has no focus and goes on and on. Once I’ve completed the whole thesis, my mission is to cut down all the unnecessary parts!

Captivation
Tell the story! So easy, yet so hard.

I have read papers that are so easy to read and give me incredible motivation, and papers that I can’t even finish the first paragraph (cos I can’t understand a thing!) I strongly believe that the impact of your work lies in the receiving end of how it’s perceived and understood. So what’s the point of hitting all the technical marks, yet the readers don’t find it interesting?

This gives me the courage and confidence to keep my writing very simple, reducing the pressure that I have to sound academic by using sophistical words…

This episode of freewriting has taken me longer than I had planned. But hey…

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Colours

“Prominent kinds of meanings with which colours have been attributed: in particular, colour symbolism and colour naturalism. The former is illustrated with examples from the Middle Ages, with traditional associations between colours and values or ideas—such as the conventional adoption of particular colours for various saints and other biblical characters in art works or broader associations such as, for example, ‘black’ with ‘death and sin’ and ‘white’ with ‘purity and divinity’ in Western traditions. Colour naturalism, in contrast, is situated against the backdrop of a loss of conventional, or semiotic, uses as colour became more of an embellishment, a way of achieving naturalistic effects, of recapturing the world as it appears to the eye.”

The Language of Colour: an introduction
Theo van Leeuwen (2011)
Reviewed by: John A. Bateman

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AUT Writers’ Retreat Day 1

This year, I’ve been very fortunate to be able given a space in the Writers Retreat at Long Bay.

Here are some reflections of Day 1:

You’re not alone.
Ever wonder why you’re struggling so much with your journey and whether it’s really just you? Well, I’ve talked to a few people and they are as slow as I am. They all talked about being carried away with work and life and no time to study. Sounds familiar?

Some people even encounter with terrible things such as their supervisor passed away… who would have thought.

Get tips and tricks

  • Use a time-keeping app (Focus Keeper)
  • Free write. Don’t get it right, get it written.
  • Write as if you’re telling a friend
  • Plan your writing, in the discipline of time, as well as in the discipline of length
  • Know yourself: maximize your productivity during the hours that work for you. In other hours, do something else
  • Trick yourself: do easy tasks, write just about anything…

Write for the ones who read it
The examiners are all who matter. Of course, you’ll want everyone to read your thesis; however, the examiners are the first to pass.

Cultivate that habit to write
This is everybody’s problem. So… trick yourself! If you have to, con yourself into writing using different tips and tricks.

Personally, I think self-discipline is key!

Get rid of the attractions
Emails, phones, messages… turn them off.
I’ve gone extra lengths to block myself out of social media, online shopping sites, and even the work website. Until… I had to actually be able to view Youtube videos for writing and I couldn’t. And I do actually need to use the work website for a work email and couldn’t as well.

You will also underestimate the amount of writing you have to do
I’ve experienced this myself and I’ve heard from people now. Writing time doesn’t mean you will sit down and start writing. It involves getting into the momentum through reading, thinking, conducting a few rituals. Not surprisingly, to some people checking social media and making sure they’ve got on top of everything is part of the ritual. For me, it’s about actually putting my head into thinking what I want to say through my writing.

Remind to self: writing time DOES include editing and proof-reading, multiple times. And time is not always on our side.

Sometimes you have to trust the journey
One of the goals that I set for myself is finishing the Methodology chapter (currently at 7k over 10k word counts). However, I was so struggling with identifying exactly what my methodology is.

Had a chat with Jennie over dinner and told her about my struggles. She suggested me completing the analyses, and trust that the methodology will rise up from the work. She said: sometimes you will have to trust the process.

I remember vividly Helen had said this to me, on multiple occasions, but it hasn’t really sunk until now that I’m actually getting into it.

What I’ve done today:

  • Consolidated the word counts, currently at 25k over 35k – 40k mark
  • Read more articles and publications on methodology. I think now that I’ve got a hang of how the methodology can come together. As I was reading, I have also added key points to my drafts.
  • Have made a decision that I’ll ditch 2 analyses that I had picked. So I had a look around and have decided on what will be the replacements.
  • Got myself into some work stuff and wasn’t pleased about the lost time…

pause

I haven’t made much progress with my thesis recently.

Telling myself not to stress out. Then feeling guilty because I’m not stressed out. Then stressing out because I’m feeling guilty.

Project17: Justin Milano – Four Pillars for Entrepreneurial Success


Takeaways:

  • Understand fear and anxiety, and their differences.
  • Fear is about what’s happening right now. It powerfully colours judgement.
  • Anxiety is chronic, worrying about things that can probably go wrong in the future. It hijacks creativity.
  • Decisions are made based on choices going through an emotional filter. Your emotions affect your decision making.
  • Learn to master yourself and your emotions to be a leader.
  • The Psychological Price of Entrepreneurship
  • Fear -> Anxiety -> Burnout -> Depressed -> Overwhelming -> Start blaming on people and things.
  • Learn how to prioritise your workload
  • Cultures of Fear:
      – Scarcity: not enough money, time, support
      – Aversion: not feeling right. having the wrong experience: guilt, upset, inexperienced, overwhelmed. When the world doesn’t show up the way your expected, you feel resistant
      – Unworthiness: I’m not enough. Understand the company’s failure is different from your personal failure. It’s important to unwind these 2 things to maintain the identity of yourself.
  • Be considerate about cultural sensitivity, eg:
      – Asia: you cannot fail
      – America: fail fast, fail often, fail cheap.

Google Doc add-ons / EasyBib + Therasus

I’ve been using Google Drive and its tools (Doc, Sheet, Slides etc) for every single thing, personal and work-wise. Often, I feel happy enough with its functions and don’t really bother checking out their add-ons as I don’t really want to be overwhelmed with all the coolness and get rid of it the next day 😀

But today I checked the add-ons out, because I’m procrastinating… 😛

EasyBib

This is going to ease up every writers’ nightmares: referencing. easybib.png

After a year of writing what seems like countless papers, I have learned by heart how to use APA reference properly. However, what I have still struggled with is looking for information about the book’s publishers and what edition to use.

EasyBib makes it so easy for me, all I need to do it dropping the book’s /  paper’s title to the search box, select the referencing style (eg: APA) and ta-da! the result appears and what’s left is just adding the bibliography to the doc. Too easy really.

Too easy!!!

(Tool is great, but don’t get lazy. Maybe it’s good to learn how to reference manually anyway! 🙂 )

 

Thesaurus

thesaurus.png

This is another easy and super useful tool that I’ve just found. What I like about Thesaurus is it not only helps me find a replacement for the word I’d like to change but also gives me new words to learn. Way to go with my writing duties! 🙂

A nice EDM from AUT

I think I like this EDM because it looks like what I would write and how i would write it if I had to write it… hmmm.

 

Prep for thesis (in progress)

Had a brief chat with Prof today and with the programme coordinator, next steps are:

  • Prepare a study plan
  • Outline a couple of topic
  • Book a time to talk to the programme manager
  • Book a time to catch up with Prof

Currently looking at:

  • pacific | media | journalism | sexism | climate change | human rights | refugees

Research proposals by Bryn Evans

Part 1 | Part 2

thinking about a thesis topic

Last week I had two final lectures for this semester. Looking back, that was the right choice to pick ‘Global crises and media’ and ‘Asia Pacific journalism’. What I’ve been engaged these past 4 months are global and regional issues: climate change, human rights, media censorship, politics, refugees, financial crisis, transgender rights, etc and etc, and even the American president election, which I would have ignored if not for taking up the classes. While I looked into climate change specifically and intensively to work on the classes’ assignments, I have also made an effort to read up about other issues as well. They are all connected and inform each other. What I have come to realise is perhaps I connect mostly to the humanity angle of all issues. I have felt extremely upset learning some Pacific islands are sinking and the people have stopped hoping. I was also angered by the mass shooting in Oregon that has happened recently. I am absolutely anxious about the domestic violence issue that’s happening in Vietnam and New Zealand. If I can sum up my feelings, I have sympathy for people who suffer and who die in these events. Nobody deserves to.

This realisation leads me to thinking about looking into how media touches on the humanity angle when reporting these issues. My recent mini-researches indicate that news often emphasises on the event itself and its damages, including the calculus of death. However, news that is not event-based, how does it cover the humanity side of the issue? Surely, we know climate change causes environmental extreme conditions that directly impact on human lives; however, how is it reported in media news that discusses climate change?

I’ll be jotting down my thoughts here as I go.