6 if nothing seems to work you may have to face an

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(6) If nothing seems to work you may have to face an unpleasant truth. It turns out to be very difficult indeed to give a clear account of woolly or incorrect mathematics. It may be that you have not reached the required stage of understanding which would permit you to write up. The only remedy is to stop writing and start thinking. As you might expect this happens quite frequently when mathematicians write up their research. In these cases the correct remedy may be to let the paper rest for a week and then reconsider matters. You are writing to a deadline and though this remedy remains the best it will only be possible if you have left plenty of slack in your timetable. 5.5 Transferring the first draft to your word processor If you are going to use a word processor you will need to transfer your hand- written document to the computer. How long this will take you depends on your temperament, your typing skills and your familiarity with mathematical word processing. However, I recommend that you plan on the assumption that you can transfer your work only twice as fast as you can write it. (Thus if it takes you 20 days to write your first draft you should allow 10 days for the transfer.) If you are already familiar with mathematical word processing this may be a very pessimistic estimate (but you will already have the expe- rience to make a better one). If you are not, or if you revise as you type, I do not think it will be far wrong. 21
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5.6 Standard advice on word processing Make a backup copy at the end of each session so that when (I do not say if) you delete your file by mistake you only lose 24 hours’ work. Never eat at a place named Mom’s, never play cards with a man named Doc and never, never use an automatic replacement facility 7 or spelling ‘corrector’ 8 . Modern programs allow you to view your document on screen without printing it out — help save the forests. 5.7 Revision Once you have your first draft on the word processor print it out onto real paper. The go back to your room or the library with real scissors and paste, plenty of extra paper and four or five fine pens of various vivid colours. Decide what revisions are necessary (be ruthless) and go back to the computer and make them. Let your essay sleep for a week and then repeat the process. Continue until you are happy with your work or you run out of time. ‘A work of art is never finished, it is merely abandoned.’ (But see the note 5.11 on stopping.) If you do not use a word processor your tools will be the xerox machine, a pen and black ink, snowpak and sellotape but the principle remains the same. 5.8 Revise, rewrite or reject Much revision consists of adding or removing punctuation, changing a word here and there, inserting an extra step in an argument and so on. If you find yourself doing more than this you should rewrite the offending passage from scratch 9 . It will not take as long as you think it will and the new version will flow better than a hacked about original. Piecemeal revision is also more likely to produce inconsistencies.
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