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