Friday, September 18, 2015

Yes, Write First!

I know I posted this somewhere, but I cannot find it! No worries, its always good to hit old topics in new ways.

So, let me keep it simple.

Write first, then read.

Literature review sections?

Write first, then read.

Any section?

Yes, any section.

Every day?

Yes, every day.

If it is true that writing is am method of inquiry (and it is), than one of the functions of writing is to discover that which we have forgotten, that which we may have slightly forgotten, and the connections between ideas that are not fully clear. By the time you have gotten even half way through a doctoral program, you have read enough that you have background knowledge that can be useful for almost anything you write, even if it is new topic.

For example, some of what I read in my first year doctoral class on epistemology is really useful for my work on autoethnography. I find some of the ideas are hazy, but as I write, I am able to access some of it. Once I am done with my initial thoughts, I can go back to the literature, and dig into it a bit more. But, it is now THERE, on the page, and so I can relax as I know I have generated some new words. I have also probably drawn connections to those original ideas that I would not have had I not written first.

Writing first does not mean you don't read. It means you exhaust what you have to say and then go into the literature. Once you have something new, you write more.

The review of literature should be an iterative process that helps you build your article, not an exhaustive exploration that must be completed before you write. That was for undergraduates, and masters students. Your a scholar now, right? You are allowed to have your own thoughts, dog forbid.

So, write first, then read. Each day. Trust that you know more than you think you do. Let the magic of writing, of writing as method of inquiry, work for you.

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