Saturday, November 5, 2011

Perfectionism is just another form of procrastination

Last week I locked myself away in a cabin[1] in the woods in an area rumoured to lie within the range of Sasquatch. I did not see the Sasquatch[2], but I did get a lot of work done on the book, which I plan to report on soon.

I was chatting with a friend recently about the process of deciding upon and following-through with a research project. She's working on a thesis project for her Masters in English Language Learning, and I relayed to her some kernels of wisdom I've learned from my colleagues and mentors over the years:
    1) Deciding upon a research topic is a conscious focus of will. One caveat:
      1a) If one writes about the topic that one's advisor has chosen, and this topic does not correlate directly with one's own interests, the will will resist.
    2) Any topic can be written about in 50 words, 500 words, 5,000 words, 500,000 words, or more; the skill is to figure out how to tailor the length and detail to the needs of one's audience and the purpose of the writing.
    3) Calibrate #1 and #2 with the amount of time one has to devote to the project.
    4) Just git 'er done. Two corollaries:
      4a) Perfectionism is just another form of procrastination.
      4b) All research is preliminary to some degree. Given the nature of academic research, there will always be both new sources to be found and other researchers who come along with new information and interpretations, so all analytical writing is to one extent or another, preliminary. But, we can't let that stop us.
I didn't come up with any of the above myself, but I've found each item to be extremely helpful in my own research and writing process (such as it is). My thanks, then, to my mentors & colleagues!

[1] As you will see in the photos I will provide, it was quite a comfortable cabin. I'm eternally grateful to Michelle & family and Mary & family!!

[2] But maybe that was part of their plan . . . ?


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the words of wisdom, James! Can't wait to get started on this amazing journey!