Monday, November 12, 2007

my academic secret

I've had a really uneventful, boring weekend. Most of it has been spent agonizing over this review paper that I have to turn in on Tuesday. I've just been dreading it. I told myself I couldn't post to the blog until I really got some traction on it. I was looking forward to this assignment at the beginning of the semester, because writing a review paper on a topic of my choice should help me develop my own research focus as I discover what's been done and what hasn't. In spite of the fact that I chose this topic, I've been dragging my feet on it all weekend. Last night I wrote four pages and today I wrote another four but I didn't really get into it until after watching The Amazing Race this evening (TAR has nothing to do with my topic, unfortunately).

Part of the reason I've been unenthusiastic about this assignment is that I didn't think about it at all in the past month while I was working on my NSF GRFP application. The other reason is because... ok brace yourself for this one... I've never written a 10 page paper before (at least not that I can recall). I'm not even talking about 10 single-spaced pages- I haven't written 10 double-spaced pages. I know, right now you're thinking how could this girl have possibly gotten into grad school? What kind of deficient education did she have? I wrote review papers as an undergrad and the assignments were 8-10 pages but mine always came out on the shorter side. I never elaborate as much as I probably should. To graduate we didn't write theses but did comprehensive exams. I have done assignments with multiple parts that added up to well over 10 pages (such as my comprehensive exams and my GRFP application) but I've never written 10 cohesive pages. I blame the latent perfectionist in me that hates to do something if I can't do it perfectly right away. I've spent years accepting that I've got to make mistakes the first time around and sometimes you just need to do something even if it's crappy. So there you have it. I'm simply intimidated by the thought of writing a 10 page paper.

I'm feeling much better about it now that I have 8 pages (rough as they are). Actually, I only have 4. I like to type single-spaced and then double-space it all at the end. I think its easier to see what I've already written if it covers fewer pages and I find it really satisfying to double the length of my paper just before turning it in. It is really late right now so I need to try to go to sleep. I've gotten on a weird schedule this weekend with all this procrastination.


Anne-Marie said...

At around 8 pages I usually start to feel a little overwhelmed with keeping track of everything in a paper. This probably sounds silly, but one thing that really helps me is to color code everything, I put each section in a different colored font, and have my notes organized accordingly, it makes it really easy to scroll through and find whatever section you're looking for. Anyway, maybe that's just revealing my Type-A-ness, but it works for me. ;)

Paulina said...

I have the opposite problem - a lot of long, run on sentences that I have to chop chop.
Congrats on finishing your first 10+ paper. May it be the first of few.