53 the daily task decide how much you expect to write

Info icon This preview shows pages 20–22. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
5.3 The daily task Decide how much you expect to write in a day. Now halve it. Now halve it again. This is your daily task, say 250 words or 1 page or 1000 keystrokes. These quantities may seem ridiculously small but if you write 250 words each day for three weeks you will have a 5000 word essay, if you write one handwritten page each day for 4 months you will have something the length of a PhD thesis and if you type 1000 keystrokes each day for 2 years you will have a substantial book. Now comes the difficult bit. You must do your daily task each day . If it takes you an hour, congratulations, you have the rest of the day free for other things. If it takes all afternoon, you have the evening free. If it takes longer, you must cancel your candle lit dinner, make excuses to your drinking club and leave your opera seat unoccupied; completing your daily task takes priority even if it takes until midnight. Never do more than your daily task. Experience shows that if you do three times as much one day you will take four days off as a reward. By working on your essay each day you keep it constantly in front of your subconscious so that it can work while you do not. You may be worried by the thought of leaving your essay in the middle of some argument. Let me quote from Littlewood’s The Mathematician’s Art of Work [10]. Most people need half an hour or so before being able to con- centrate fully. I once came across some wise advice on this, and have taken it. The natural impulse towards the end of a day’s work is to finish the immediate job: this is of course right if stop- ping would mean doing work all over again. But try to end in the middle of something; in a job of writing out, stop in the middle of a sentence. The usual recipe for warming-up is to run over the latter part of the previous day’s work; this dodge is a further improvement. 6 Instead of a wastepaper basket you should have a very large file in which you place every sheet of paper that you discard. Sometimes first thoughts turn out to be better than second. 20
Image of page 20

Info icon This preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
5.4 What to do when you are stuck Here are some suggestions. (1) Make a note of what ought to follow and skip to the next section. (2) Go back to some section which you have previously skipped and work on that bit. (3) Go to a blackboard and explain the point to an invisible but patient audience. (4) Is your organisation wrong? Perhaps you should have proved some lemma earlier? Go back and insert it. (Rather than rewriting use scissors and paste to rearrange your manuscript.) Perhaps you can break down one horrible, complicated section into three simpler ones. (5) Perhaps you are pursuing a side issue. Is the result or argument essential for your essay? If it is you have no choice but to press on. If not, leave it out. What the writer does not enjoy writing the reader will not enjoy reading.
Image of page 21
Image of page 22
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

What students are saying

  • Left Quote Icon

    As a current student on this bumpy collegiate pathway, I stumbled upon Course Hero, where I can find study resources for nearly all my courses, get online help from tutors 24/7, and even share my old projects, papers, and lecture notes with other students.

    Student Picture

    Kiran Temple University Fox School of Business ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    I cannot even describe how much Course Hero helped me this summer. It’s truly become something I can always rely on and help me. In the end, I was not only able to survive summer classes, but I was able to thrive thanks to Course Hero.

    Student Picture

    Dana University of Pennsylvania ‘17, Course Hero Intern

  • Left Quote Icon

    The ability to access any university’s resources through Course Hero proved invaluable in my case. I was behind on Tulane coursework and actually used UCLA’s materials to help me move forward and get everything together on time.

    Student Picture

    Jill Tulane University ‘16, Course Hero Intern