By Susan Carter
When…you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out in the open and has other people looking at it. (A. A. Milne, 1961, p. 101)
In last week’s workshop with a group of doctoral students, we began by talking about what was puzzling, troubling or interesting people currently about their doctoral writing. A couple agreed that it was really hard to put ideas that are good in the mind onto a page–like Pooh Bear above, they found quite good thoughts somehow looked much less convincing in a draft of writing.
Some common disgruntlements emerged: feeling your own writing is boring to read and boring to write, and wondering whether the current writing might not end up in the thesis so feeling all that work might be a waste of time.
The potentiality of ideas seemed to be shut down when packaged into linear writing, in the same way that the pleasure of having inviting purchase options is gone once you spend your cash. You get one thing, and that is all.
A challenge those with English as an Additional Language agreed on, however, was how hard writing was at doctoral level, because ‘literacy’ suddenly became ‘much more complicated.’ So this week, we met again for a small exercise that comes from Linda Evans on developing precision in expression.
It begins asking students to take approximately three minutes to write down a good definition of a chair. Continue reading