I remember when I first started my postgraduate studies it was hammered in to me that “you must write every day”. On any postgrad advice blog/page/twitter account, you will find all the time. I kept thinking to myself, how? What if I have nothing to say? It just dawned on me today, I may not have “written” anything that’s the start of an official next chapter, but I am still writing.
I am currently a quarter of the way through doing interviews for stage one of my research. These have been a process of recording the interview via Skype (check out my previous post on how to do this) and then transcribing the audio in to word. A couple of things have come from this process. Firstly, I have come up against some hurdles, or what I perceived to be hurdles, during my recruitment phase, of which I have not finished yet. Whilst these hurdles can be frustrating, they are but one of the many aspects of what will form my methods chapter. Secondly, the interviews I am transcribing will, in one way or another, become part of my discussion chapters.
So when you read that you should be writing every day, and you don’t think you are because you’re not officially writing in that chapter section, remember, everything you do, every thought you have, is writing. Even attending seminars in your field (in my case, anthropology), is a form of writing. You may be listening to someone do a talk on their topic which is unrelated to your field of research, but listening to their research then gives you ideas that flow on to your own research. What did they do? How did they do it? How might this shape your research? What does this make you think about your own research? Does it reinforce something for you? Does it demonstrate to you a need to change something about how you are going about your topic? Not only this, during your interviews, or ANY kind of anthropological investigation, do not rule anything out. You may go in thinking you have a clear idea of what you want out of what you are doing, but if you keep your mind open and just listen to who you are talking to, other aspects may reveal themselves to you that you had not considered before.
These are my thoughts whilst I take a study break. I’ve written 3000 words this morning purely based on one interview. Obviously not everything that is said in that interview will make it into my research output, but the majority of it probably will. Don’t get me wrong, your thesis will not write itself, but you need to be aware of all the things going on around you that contribute to what you write. It’s not always about sitting in front of your computer and writing. That is the end goal, there are many ways of writing, and each is as valuable as the other, none are a waste of time. That last bit is for me, someone who was berating herself for not having written another chapter since her literature review. I am writing. I am always writing.