Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Writing at the speed of snail

I must be mad. Finding myself stuck in go slow speed in writing my literature review, I thought a bit of writing might help. Perhaps it might. I know in my head that the process of writing is a combination of planning, persistence and...grappling. This last week has felt like 'grappling', which is my shorthand for the work involved in moving from a plan to actually configuring a text that works, makes sense, is relevant and flows. Reflecting on this now, I wonder if I need to examine my expectations. Perhaps because I am impatient, I want to make quick progress but I've been starting my literature review chapter with a particularly picky policy discourse section.

It's dense stuff, and it's felt like 'stitching' numerous texts together, ensuring I have the exact bibliographic details for each as I go added to Endnote. Aaargh. Every few words I've had to locate an document from government archives (often with difficulty). I'm pretty good at finding things, but this has been testing. As I've written, I've been unsure as to how much detail was needed. I finished writing one section today and was hit by a horrible feeling that I will have to edit most of it out, as I'd got to 5,000 words in what needs to be about 15,000 for about six sections. Aaargh again.

I thought I knew what I wanted to say, but I guess the truth is that I could have thought more about what I wanted to achieve; what the review needed in terms of the building narrative. Would this have helped? Perhaps. I'm not going to beat myself up, because the material will be useful for other things in time even if it does not get used. Perhaps I needed to write this thing out in full so that I can distill it down. I need to see the full 'arc' of the policy story so that I can think about which elements are pertinent to the questions I am asking and the draft chapters that follow it. You never know, someone reading this material who knows nothing about Sure Start Children's Centres or the discourses of English early years policy might just need it.

I will persist, but I note the need for motivation as I grapple with the next set of texts and the story I want to tell. I have a cup of tea lined up with my second supervisor tomorrow, who may need to give me a slap.