I love my electronic and online technology, really I do. I wouldn’t count myself as a ‘super user’ of any of them, but I do my best to make them work for what I need to do. That includes Scrivener for drafting, Mendeley for reference manangement and portability, Prezi for lots of my presentations, Twitter for networking, Evernote for, well, notes and saving random stuff and recipes as well as thesis ideas, and even this blog for experimenting with writing. Drafts get sent to my supervisors by email, after I’ve compiled the section out to that other word-processing programme. The data for my study is mostly video and audio recordings and my analysis has used software for handling those data. I do a lot of my work online and electronically, and back-up fairly obsessively as a result. Even my thesis topic focuses on social media.
A lot of my work is digital and yet there is still a place for analogue. Today I transferred my mindmap of a chapter onto a collection of system cards in pencil. There is something about the process that helps me think. Maybe it’s shuffling the cards, maybe it’s writing things out by hand, maybe it’s all of these and something more. This is not to say that it’s better. It’s different, and sometimes different is good for putting thoughts together in a way that fit more clearly, or merge more smoothly, or that I like better than the way they were before. I’m sure some of it is the change of activity and doing something different with my hands. I can get some of this effect when I take a knitting break.
I was reminded of this today when I was faced with wiping the mindmap of my literature review chapter I’d just sent to my supervisor in order to start work on the next draft chapter, which will be a lot of theory and connect with ideas I critique in the lit review. Fortuitously, it coincided with Shut Up & Write Tuesday on Twitter. I didn’t want to just photograph it (which I’d already done, thanks phone!), because there was a lot of detail that I wanted to be able to play with. Handle. Manually. Fortunately I have a stack of system cards on my desk and so my SUWT project was to organise my mindmap onto system cards so I had the detail and could flick through them as I think about the re-theorising work I want to do in this later chapter. I practically wrote my honours thesis on system cards (this was 1993 – they were way better than any digital option at the time), and Corkboard is one of the features I love in Scrivener. Still, I wanted and needed the card cards, and now I have another structural support for my thesis that’s a bit more portable than the Scrivener project.
Hybrid seems to work for me. There are some days I want to read on paper rather than on the screen, and scribbling over a printed-out journal paper is more useful than highlighting and noting on the PDF, even if I then transfer to the digital version. There are some things that would be way more difficult as a manual process, like designing graphic presentations, but are a snip in a digital document. I have not yet found a mindmap programme that does what I want it to (and I’ve tried plenty). They all want to start at a point that’s the next step of organisation on from where I use mindmaps, hence why the whiteboard (or sticky notes on the wall) will remain my tools of choice for that part of my writing. Analogue is still my friend and I think there are some things that digital won’t replace. I’m okay with that.
I have done so much since my last post here, but all the writing love has been for thesis drafting. It’s not been for lack of ideas, just time and energy!
Draft Chapter Tally:
- 5 out of 8 in first draft
- 2 with supervisor feedback
Bravery Stripe for Sending First Draft Chapter to Supervisor for Review Even Though It Was All A Bit Messy And Awful