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Writing a book….


So I’ve now embarked on the whole ‘writing a book’ malarkey, and I have to say, it’s been a bit of a rough transition from article writing to book writing. When I was doing my PhD, finishing the thesis was the big aim, and since you usually have three years in which to complete it, a whole thesis doesn’t seem like too big an effort. Once I was done with my thesis and started writing articles for publication, the jump down from writing 100,000 words for one piece of work to only having to write ~10,000 words was fantastic! The great thing about a journal article is the sense of progress. You start with a blank piece of paper, and (hopefully!) within a few months, you’ll have at least a first draft to work with. Progress is very noticeable with a journal article and that sense of achievement keeps you going on and plugging away at it. Moreover, you know that, generally speaking, you’ll be able to draw a line under it after a few months.

But with the book, I’m back to the long, drawn out process of thinking about my research over the course of 100,000 words, rather than a short, punchy 10,000 words. And unlike writing a journal article, there’s less of a sense of progress, especially when I’ve planned to write nine chapters. Keeping positive when I know that there’s another 90,000 words to go (or eight chapters, depending on how you look at it) is tough, and despite having already written that much for my thesis, girding my loins for a marathon rather than a sprint is, thus far, proving to be a bigger challenge than I had originally thought.

I suppose part of the solution is to break it down into manageable chunks, and to forget that each chapter is working towards the book as a whole (since that can be dealt with during the re-write part). So instead of seeing it as one big book, seeing it as a bunch of quite detailed journal articles. That way, there’s more of a sense of achievement once each chapter is ticked off. And I think that seeing any long piece of writing (a thesis, a book, an edited volume etc) as one long slog is probably self-defeating. Chunking it up and breaking it down into smaller bits and pieces keeps you focused on short-term goals and targets and makes you feel as though you’re actually getting through the work.

But I’ll be able to better comment on that once the book is done.

The Social Linguist

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Back in the saddle!

November 20, 2012 1 comment

Ugh… Ok, so I don’t quite know how it happened, but it’s been nearly three weeks since my last update. Ok, it’s a lie that I don’t know how it happened, but it sounds so ‘wah, look at me! I’m so BUSY!!!’ humble-braggy that I’m not even going to entertain the thought…

In any event, I’m back in the saddle and trying to plough my way through about half a dozen minor projects before I start on the magnum opus of THESIS 2.0 (or, ‘The thesis I wish I had written three years ago if I knew then what I know now’, although it’s unlikely that a publisher will go for that title…). So yeah, I’m back in Pittsburgh, I’ve got my home office all set up (with a bookshelf and a side light and everything. It’s very mature) and I’m raring to get stuck into getting this book done.

But genuinely, I’ve got precious little idea what I’m actually going to write about. I’ve been here for two months already, and while I’ve got through a good amount of stuff, I’ve not even started to think about ‘Chapter 1’, never mind what goes into the rest of the thing. So a lack of thinking time has kind of ham-stringed (hamstrung?) me, and I’m guessing that it’ll only be when I sit down at the computer and go ‘right then, let’s get on with this’ that my creative synapses will start firing and I’ll figure things out.

I’m sure this is going to be a big job, and I’m kind of tempted to shunt off thesis 1.0 and just change the title, although that *definitely* won’t get picked up by a publisher. Ok, well, there’s one thing that I want to do, and that’s more coding and analysis, probably of the rest of my Year 3 data, and that’s the plan for December. Once that’s done, I can then sit down and hash out the other stuff I want to write about. Probably some stuff about Glasgow. And male speakers in Glasgow. And masculinity. And masculinity in Glasgow. And language. And ethnography. And stuff.

It’s gonna be a best-seller.

– The Social Linguist

Categories: Home life, Writing Tags: , ,