Tuesday, September 30, 2008

I think I'm confused

I'm getting a bit panicky about the lab reviewing my paper next week. Today the paper we read got pretty harsh criticism and I fear that mine will have similar issues.

I seem to be adept at thinking myself into a place where I no longer know what I'm trying to say in my writing. It goes something like this: I have an idea (like this review paper) and I want to answer a question. I start reading the literature. I write my ideas. I try to fill in references for the ideas I can't quite place. While looking in a particular vein of research, I come across something that challenges some major component of my topic. Then I revise my writing in light of the new discovery. I try to continue expanding on my original idea but now I have no idea what the point is anymore since I've read so many different things that seem to render my question irrelevant, and here I am all confused about what I want to say.

This morning I put BOTH contacts in my right eye and spent at least five minutes trying to figure out why my vision got worse when I put the contact in. I put my left contact into my right eye (on top of the actual right eye contact) and took it out TWICE before I realized what was going on. In 8 years of wearing contacts I have never done anything like that before! This is the state that I am in today.

Now that I have my contacts in the appropriate eyes, I think I need to step up to my dry erase board and take another look at the big picture of my review.


Fia said...

#1) What I do in that sort of writing confusion situations is either make a presentation (I usually get a good story line in those) or pick 3 (and not more) figures and write my red line down around those on not more than 4 pages.

#2) I once put both contacts in one eye and spend 3 hours searching for the missing one. When I wanted to go outside to order new ones, I took them out to wear glasses and then I realized it. You were very quick!

EcoGeoFemme said...

How about an outline of what you've written, then revising the outline to something logical, then adjusting the paper to follow the new outline?

Hopefully your lab group will be more gentle on a draft with you present than they were with a published paper with no author in the room.

Silver Fox said...

Maybe it's time to stop reading more papers? Even in a review paper there's only so much that can be covered. And sometimes when my writing gets confused and I don't know what to do next, I just start a new page by saying, "What I really want to say is this..." and then just start writing. I have to cut and paste later, but sometimes it helps clarify things for me.

Relax a bit, if you can - a hot bath?

Karina said...

Great suggestions from everyone! Thanks for those. I did something like what EGF suggested and what silver fox suggested to get more of my thoughts out this evening. More writing tomorrow!