Is Writing about Writing a Good Idea?

Yesterday I wrote about a dilemma that has arisen in the project I’ve been working on the past couple of weeks. This morning I am returning to that project with some anxiety, and I’m wondering whether writing about the situation will help alleviate that anxiety or increase it.

Perhaps I should write about the Golden Globes and the debacle of Ricky Gervais’s second stint as host. He probably won’t be asked back.

Alternatively, I could note how uninspiring I find the topic prompts that WordPress is providing for their PostADay Challenge. But I have plenty of things to write about without external prompts, so that would just be uncharitable. Perhaps as Gervais demonstrated, stream of consciousness is not always a good idea.

The challenge I’m confronting with the paper is that an edit that would keep it brief and to the point would make it seem utterly trivial, whilst following the various possible threads that are emerging would take forever and turn the essay into a book. Time constraints prohibit the latter. And well … professional pride, I suppose, makes the former less than appealing.

So what, then, is the third way?

I’m reminded of my dissertation director’s suggestion long ago: “One idea for an article, half an idea for a conference paper.” Surely I can come up with half an idea.

In fact, I think the thing to do here is to focus more on suggesting the avenues I don’t have time to flesh out in this version of the paper. That will also set up a series of topics that I can come back to and complete in stages.

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2 Responses to Is Writing about Writing a Good Idea?

  1. knotrune says:

    How do you define half an idea? Do you take a whole idea and cut it in half? If so is it better to talk about the first half and leave them waiting for sequel? Or the second half, so you can finish? Or is it an incomplete idea right from the start? If so, how can you be sure it’s half, rather than a third, or three quarters?

    Sorry, I just watched a programme about quantum physics, I think it scrambled my brain! Put down the meson and back away slowly… 🙂

    Good luck with the paper that’s about what it’s not about!

    • Funny questions…. Thanks!

      I love thinking about those kinds of things that twist your mind around. One reason I so enjoyed the work Tom Stoppard was doing in the 1980s and 1990s. Arcadia, and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in particular.

      I think my director was just trying to find ways to keep students from thinking an idea had to be perfect before it could be presented. And probably to help with the whole read-another-book syndrome that keeps academics from completing projects.

      Thanks again for the fun comment. Good to know one’s not writing into a complete void. 😀

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