Last week, in the online forum Walden University provides for students with the same faculty mentor, I wrote the following about the writing I’ve been doing for my KAMs (Knowledge Area Modules – writing projects leading up to the dissertation… I’m on my last one):
Incidentally, I’ve been reflecting on KAM writing lately, and find that I don’t getting into the flow state as I do when I’m doing other writing. I’m consistently unengaged with and disappointed with my KAMs, and I think I’m realizing why. I’m not writing for an audience (I don’t even have one in mind other than the assessor) and I’m not writing for a purpose (other than to pass the KAM). Also, since the purpose of the KAM is merely to demonstrate my knowledge, I find it difficult to write anything creative (especially when there is so much knowledge to acquire and demonstrate as it is). I’m curious what you all think about this.
I later spent half of Saturday and half of Sunday this past weekend writing about 15 pages of crap for my final remaining KAM. (I’ve been researching, note-taking, and outlining for months in preparation for this.)
More significantly, I brought this up with Eva on Sunday evening and we chatted. I said things like “when I write for my blog or for an article I’m including only what I think is important, but when I’m writing a KAM I’m trying to show that I read all these books and articles.” Of course, she was wise enough to say simply, “you should only be writing what’s important in your KAM, too.” Which, basically, is something my assessors have been trying to tell me for quite some time now. And it’s why I usually write close to 60 pages per section (instead of 30… and each KAM has three sections).
The bottom line is, I had a breakthrough that night, and finally turned a corner I new I was going to have to turn before finishing the degree. I resolved to no longer write crap for my academic writing… to no longer cobble together quotes and references to show how much I’ve read (which is always too much, btw). I’m going to take the extra time for an additional step (after reading and collecting my notes in an outliner) to decide what I have to say, and then prune away my notes until only those things essential to my point remain. This is going to be painful – and it will take time, but in the end I think it will actually save time… and, of course, I think my academic writing will be better for it. I’m glad I’ve still got a chance to write this way before my dissertation. (All my KAMs will likely end up in my dissertation, though.)
So, starting tonight, I am starting an all new outline for this KAM and whittling down my resources to fit it. I’m excited about the new process and look forward to seeing what I can write. I just can’t believe it took me three years to get here! Or five years of grad school, if you want to look at it that way.
In the meantime, I’m sure I’ll continue to blog sporadically, but I guess I need own up to the fact that I can’t maintain a blog with daily new content and daily links, as I tried to back in the first few months of the year. Maybe after the baby Ph.D. is born, though then there might be another kind of baby altogether. Well, I’ll continue to share what I can.
Thanks for reading, as I used to say.
UPDATE: Incidentally, my audience for this final KAM is you guys. :)
UPDATE 2: This is much scarier. Note all my procrastination…
UPDATE 3: A thought from Senge is appropriate… “one of the most painful things in the life of a poet is learning that you often have to leave out your best line in order for the poem to work as a whole.” (Senge et al., 2000, p. 561)