The Thinking Stage

I am working on my dissertation proposal.

Or so I say. I haven’t really written much. But, that should all change this week. This week, I start writing. Up until that point, I’ve been Thinking. I’ve been in the Thinking Stage.

For me, this stage often takes up the most amount of time in my process. For a lot of people, writing happens through drawn out processes, while for me it all sort of happens in one giant jolt. My comprehensive exams were that way, I spent an hour reading the question, jotting an outline…then all of a sudden I looked up and I had written 10 pages in two hours.

In this case, I have been surrounded by this research project for years. I was given access to the St. Mary’s City project the summer after I started graduate school, in 2007. I’ve written a good deal about it already: a couple research proposals, two conference presentations, a comprehensive report. This is the collection process: gathering the info. Collecting the data. Seeing the pieces, but not how they fit together.

But since I gave the paper at SHA, I haven’t done much writing. I’ve been taking some notes, talking with my advisor, scribbling a little on a white board. Trying to see what fits and what doesn’t. I’m in the Thinking Stage.

The Thinking Stage is an important part of the process for me. This is when I gather my thoughts. Start connecting the pieces that I have collected. This is when the creative process occurs: when two seemingly unrelated objects are connected, or linked, together. This is the fun part. Sometimes this happens in a flow chart, or an outline, or on the back of a napkin. It’s the best part. It’s when it all comes together.

I have some good news: the Thinking Stage is nearing a close. The pieces have begun to come together.

So, this week, I write. See you on the other side.

How about you? What is your process? Do you have an equivalent stage?

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  • Terry Brock

    yeah…either this is my approach to these things, or I've just been able to justify my procrastination​. 😉

  • Terry I have a similar goal with the prediss grant thing in front of me… 😉

  • Terry I have a similar goal with the prediss grant thing in front of me… 😉

  • yeah…either this is my approach to these things, or I've just been able to justify my procrastination. 😉

  • yeah…either this is my approach to these things, or I've just been able to justify my procrastination. 😉

  • I prefer the thinking stage …

  • I prefer the thinking stage …

  • Anna Jefferson

    Terry, I like calling it the thinking stage. Framing is everything! :)You're also totally right about the importance of momentum. In fact I sent my advisor an email called that yesterday! Whenever I let myself lose momentum, I end up drifting or pulled into an eddy of 'okay, so…now what?' Lately it's been very helpful for me to be able to see my work as having many component parts–like correspond with people, pull sources, revise diss proposal–inste​ad of as one project called Graduate School. And it's really helping to keep account of where I'm at; most importantly, to share this with other people (profs, research contacts). I've learned the hard way that if I'm only telling myself where I'm at, it's much easier for me to justify staying at the 'thinking' stage forever!

  • Terry, I like calling it the thinking stage. Framing is everything! :)You're also totally right about the importance of momentum. In fact I sent my advisor an email called that yesterday! Whenever I let myself lose momentum, I end up drifting or pulled into an eddy of 'okay, so…now what?' Lately it's been very helpful for me to be able to see my work as having many component parts–like correspond with people, pull sources, revise diss proposal–instead of as one project called Graduate School. And it's really helping to keep account of where I'm at; most importantly, to share this with other people (profs, research contacts). I've learned the hard way that if I'm only telling myself where I'm at, it's much easier for me to justify staying at the 'thinking' stage forever!

  • Terry, I like calling it the thinking stage. Framing is everything! :)You're also totally right about the importance of momentum. In fact I sent my advisor an email called that yesterday! Whenever I let myself lose momentum, I end up drifting or pulled into an eddy of 'okay, so…now what?' Lately it's been very helpful for me to be able to see my work as having many component parts–like correspond with people, pull sources, revise diss proposal–instead of as one project called Graduate School. And it's really helping to keep account of where I'm at; most importantly, to share this with other people (profs, research contacts). I've learned the hard way that if I'm only telling myself where I'm at, it's much easier for me to justify staying at the 'thinking' stage forever!

  • Terry, I completely agree with you on this. This was the method I used when I wrote my Senior Honors Thesis- think for a week or two, jot down a few sentences/phrases that stuck with me, and then when it came down to it I’d crank out 20+ pages at a time. Personally, I like to think it makes for better writing. Rather than start out with very rough copy and try and make it better, you do all the pre-editing in your head and get later-stage draft quality material at the start. Then you’re not stuck in a mind-rut of trying to make the rough copy work.

    Good luck with your writing goals this week!

  • Terry, I completely agree with you on this. This was the method I used when I wrote my Senior Honors Thesis- think for a week or two, jot down a few sentences/phrases that stuck with me, and then when it came down to it I’d crank out 20+ pages at a time. Personally, I like to think it makes for better writing. Rather than start out with very rough copy and try and make it better, you do all the pre-editing in your head and get later-stage draft quality material at the start. Then you’re not stuck in a mind-rut of trying to make the rough copy work.

    Good luck with your writing goals this week!