Saturday, February 27, 2010

Thesis Writing Lessons Learned

Hoi z'same. I'm taking a very brief break from tonight's midnight oil thesis-writing segment to share some things I've learned (and remembered) about myself thanks to this big ugly paper I'm (now almost finished) writing:

1) I really do write better and faster post-10 pm, except that I make more stupid spelling mistakes in the wee hours.

2) Peanut butter cups, tea, and company (certain people's company...maybe not just anyone's) help make working much more pleasant. Valda wins the prize this time around for best camaraderie during all night work sessions.

3)It's true I'm a procrastinator. I know most of you have long thought that if you look up "procrastinator" in the dictionary, you'll find my picture. Well, that may be so, but I submit that you'll find the same image under "perfectionist" because while I'm strolling about facebook, cleaning my house in minute detail, drawing pictures or deciding NOW is the time to pick up my German homework, and catch up on every email that could possibly need writing, in the back of my head I'm fretting that my paper isn't going to be any good (and by "any good" I usually mean Pulitzer-prize winner quality). And on that discouraging thought...I procrastinate some more.

4)I work much better on paper at certain stages of my thinking, and simply printing out sections of 10-20 pages to scribble on makes a tremendous difference for my ability to concentrate. There are some interesting cognition studies on how interaction with the physical environment is sometimes needed in order to produce certain outputs, or to "produce knowledge." I think it's something to do with that. Anyway, without that prop, I lose countless hours wandering around in my Word document wondering what it was I wanted to say again.

5) It takes me longer to write a research paper page than I thought it would. I probably need at least an hour a page by the time I'm done, and that's from when I already have my reading/research worked out.

Yup. so now I know. And now...back to it.

Oh, but first...thoughts about this Henri Nouwen quote (below)? Yesterday I got to see a bunch of Raph's pictures from his physical therapy work in Ethiopia the last few months. If you haven't seen them yet, you should ask to (um...if you know him, I mean). They're troubling, to say the least, and tragic when you consider how easy it would have been to correct many of the problems his patients face, if only they had been born in a place that had the resources and infrastructure to help. Today I read this comment by Nouwen, and it seemed to obviously relate, though I haven't decided yet how it applies:

“There is immense pain in the wide world around us; there is immense pain in the small world within us. But all pain belongs to Jesus and is transformed by him into glorified wounds which allow us to recognize him as our risen Lord.”

All pain belongs to Jesus. hmm. Actually I'm coming up short on what he's getting at. So I'll keep thinking about it, and you can too, and if you figure out how Ethiopia ought to inform my understanding of that, or how that idea ought to inform my understanding of physical therapy in Ethiopia, please do let me know.

And now, for reals, I'm really gonna go finish my paper. water. politics. what the fish said when he ran into the wall. etc.

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