How did I do this? How did I, between 9.45am and 3.15pm, write over 6,000 words (either 6,195 or 6,220, depending on which of my computers you believe) of my thesis, albeit it first draft words. There were three crucial factors.
First and foremost, I attended a “Shut Up and Write” day led by Eljee Javier. 15 of us sat in a room on the third floor of the Roscoe building. There was coffee and tea, biscuits and lunch. And there was writing. Lots of writing, in half hour chunks. There was a clear social expectation that we would write, without checking facebook, email, references or anything else. This was crucial. I am somewhat lucky, because I have a supervisor who devised a very schematic (in a good way) format for writing case study chapters, which is what I was tackling today. Thirdly, I had read a humungous amount of material and shoved it higgedly-piggedly into my mildly OCD memory.
So today, with the peer-pressure, the format and the background knowledge, I was able to just splurge it from brain to keyboard to computer, chronologically and in the a modified version of my supervisor’s sub-headings from”Science, Social Movements, Media, Policy-Makers, Progressive Business Coalitions, Renewable Energy, Industry Political Strategies, Industry Socio-cultural strategies, Technological Strategies” for 6 periods (which will probably become five.)
It’s only a first draft, sure, but what it means is when I read (or re-read) stuff, I am now going to be able to slot in sentences and paragraphs into an existing document, which is a HUGE deal.
During the unscheduled break (there was a fire alarm) I was thinking that such productivity would not be possible again. But you know, I think it might. I look forward to finding out. There’s two Shut Up and Write Sessions (shorter ones) coming up on Weds 25th November and Weds 2nd December organised by Eljee. I’m also hoping to rope other people in my Institute into doing weekly ones.
Shut Up and Write is not for everyone. And I strongly suspect that there will be times when I get massive writers’ block. But it is SUCH a good idea, and I’d urge Masters and PhD students to give it a go (or two goes).