I had my first paper due for my first Master's class Tuesday night. I told myself that the weekend prior to it being due was completely blocked off... other than the heel-clicking good time at the Friday night dance... to work on it. I realize planned procrastination does not make it less of a "social crime" (whatever that term I just made up means).
I had a *nugget of an idea. When I went to find research on my chosen literature though, there was none, and I had to REALLY dig into the journal articles to find something vaguely applicable that I could manipulate to support my thesis. I could not wrap my head around how to just jump in and start writing the paper. I blamed it at that point on it having been 5 years since I was in a class (a "real" class... not on-line excuse-of-a-classes to get my liscense). Since (finally) completing the project, I think perhaps it had something to do with writing for a Professor degreed from YALE and publisher of MANY books and journal articles.
So, this is the process I went though...
1. Read through multiple journal articles... select the minimum 5 needed to reference in my paper.
2. Closely read over each article and underline any mildly relevant information.
3. Type (big) bullet form lists of pertinent info from each article.
4. Reread literature selection and take 36 hand-written notes on it.
5. Divide #3 into categories and retype info from multiple sources, now arranged by category and not journal author.
6. Reread and label hand-written notes on literature based on 6 categories & corrolate it with journal notes.
And, thus, about 30 hours of work and enough killed trees to affect the ozone layer later, I was ready to start my paper... except it was late Monday night. So, I worked on it until about 2 a.m. and then called in the next day with "Paper Flu" to finish.
It's taken some time to be less critical of myself, but I really like where it went. I wish I had 2 days to have walked away and went back to make sure all the connections were clear, which I'm pretty sure they were not. I'm thinking now though that it may be good enough to revisit and look at publishing eventually.
This is quite a turn of events from the inadequacy I have felt in that class as they use big words and refer to literature I have not read (read, as in previous classes, not as in the lit I am slacking from reading in this class).
I have no class for two weeks- the professor has a conference and then it is Spring Break. I have told myself I will get ahead on the reading, on my presentation, on the next paper... and go back to read the assignments I did not complete. The first night of class, I sat there a bit insulted there were other students in the class that had obviously, and quite often admittingly, not read the assignment... then I became one of those "kids." It's too easy to play along in a class like this. I want to drive myself more. I want to get the most I can out of this experience.
I only wished I believed just a smidgen I will will make good use of the 2 weeks out of class.