[Photo Spread] Book Annotating That’s Better over the Long Haul; Overcoming Distraction

Greetings!

I hope this post finds you well!

Below I share a photo spread. If you click on a picture, it will display the large photo viewer where you can see more details.

About the photos: The book annotation techniques on display in the photos have saved me SO MUCH time and helped me get the most out of my books and my reading. The photos depict how I take notes in books such that not only are the notes useful soon after they are taken (while still in the memory a bit), but they are useful months and years later.

The annotations are made and placed in such a way that I might not even have to open the book to know if it contains annotations leading to content that I need. And if I do determine to open the book, I can know to a high degree of certainty after skimming the Table of Contents or going to a select number of TABBED pages whether to keep with the book for my present needs or look elsewhere.

To close the post, below the photo spread I list four INCREDIBLY helpful (to me) links that lead to really great (to me) material that I’ve encountered over the past week or so. It didn’t feel right to “sit on them” without sharing. 😉 I hope you find something useful in one if not most of them. Please add your comments.

Well, back to thesising I go! Wishing you joy, clarity, and any breakthroughs you desire as you continue to squash effective tomatoes and cross off tasks toward reaching your milestones and crossing that finished line.Quote_DecideThatYouWantItMoreThanYouAreAfraidOfItWe’re going to get there! We are closer today than we were yesterday. Let’s do this! Solidarity vibes. 🙂

Please enjoy the photo gallery and links below.

Blessings,

Mickey

 

Some Reads Perhaps Very Worth Your Time

  1. Distractions and Solutions posted at the (research) supervisor’s friend
  2. The Different Stages of the Writing Process posted at the Research Voodoo blog NOTE: The author recently enjoyed having one of her posts Freshly Pressed!
  3. Using English for Academic Purposes (a webguide for students in higher education) by Andy Gillett: This is a clear, illuminating, easy-and-even-fun-to-navigate website all about academic writing at higher levels. It’s the simplicity and CLARITY of the explanations, married with the diagrams, that strike me about this content. I’ll be back lots, I think.
  4. 6 Easy-to-Steal Rituals of Extremely Successful People posted at the Marc and Angel Hack Life blog

[Downloadable] OneNote Binder Tailored for Academic Researchers and Writers

Featured

Link to the binder: http://tinyurl.com/zcqvu95 or https://app.box.com/OneNoteBinderForResearchers.

NOTE: I’ve made this post a sticky: That means it stays at the top of the blog. Newer blog posts show up below it.

[ADDITION] OneNote PRINTING HELP: To the end of this post I’ve added instructions on how to PRINT OneNote items from OneNote 2010 (other versions may differ).


MAIN POST CONTENT

OneNote is now available for Windows, Apple, and Android devices.

I have created a OneNote binder tailored for academic researchers and writers. The video below previews it. Once downloaded, you can customize and tweak it as you wish.

OneNote is a powerful, robust tool because OneNote mirrors the layout of a physical binder of notebooks, syncs across computers via SkyDrive/OneDrive, and allows for such features as:

  1. Automatic versioning of OneNote pages
  2. Tagging of content in OneNote (including creation of custom tags) and searching by tags
  3. Password protecting of tabs and sections
  4. Dragging-and-dropping into OneNote
  5. Adding screen clippings to OneNote
  6. Printing to OneNote via the OneNote printer
  7. OCR
  8. Deep searching across notebooks, in one notebook, or in one section (including Boolean searching and use of quotation marks to search for exact wording)
  9. Searching for words in audio and video notes/content
  10. Inking (handwriting)
  11. Handwriting to text conversion
  12. Nesting of notebook sections groups
  13. Nesting of subpages under pages, with the ability to collapse and expand subpages
  14. Notebook sharing and real-time collaboration with others
  15. File attachment
  16. Page templates
  17. Docking to desktop
  18. And more . . .

The learning curve is not bad, and OneNote can become even more powerful for users who read about how to use OneNote, view video tutorials, learn keyboard shortcuts, and add in OneNote add-ins of choice.

One of the best introductory videos about OneNote that I’ve encountered is the YouTube video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuTBdonbYZo. If you already know the basics of OneNote, you might advance to about time stamp 17:44 of the YouTube video for some of the more advanced features and tips.

I’m pairing OneNote with my Livescribe Pulse pen (see this video to get the gist), my Windows laptop (see this video to see OneNote paired with a tablet), and my Windows Nokia Lumia 1020 smart phone to work smart, especially in terms of going “analog” more often when it’s more prudent to hand-write than to work on the computer. See this post and this video and even parts of this wonderful book for more about the importance of balancing analog versus digital working modes for learning and creative/academic work.

OneNote is an application to consider among options such as EverNote and Devonthink. Some people use OneNote in conjunction with EverNote or Devonthink, while others replace EverNote or Devonthink with OneNote. It is helpful to search the internet and read blogs and comments about the differences between OneNote and other similar programs and about different ways of using OneNote in conjunction with other programs.

Trying to figure out how to print an entire section or particular pages in a section from OneNote 2010?

Directions:

  1. Click on the desired section tab. Look at the list of pages down the right-hand column.
  2. Select the pages you want to print, while holding down the
    1. the CONTROL KEY to select individual pages one at a time or
    2. the SHIFT KEY to select the first and last page you want . . .which will THEN result in selecting the first page you clicked, the last page your clicked, and all pages in between.
  3. Click on “File” at the very top of the OneNote program. Then click on “Print.”
  4. Click on “Print Preview” to format things or scroll through what will be printed . . . and/or click “Print” to print.
  5. IMPORTANT: If you need a PDF printer, install the free program CutePDF Writer onto your computer, and you will now have a PDF printer installed as an option for printing any time you print any document.

I hope that helps!

Mickey

Dealing with Writer’s Block Part 3 of 4: What I’ve Learned and Generated in Response Over the Past 5 Years

(. . . discussion is continued from the previous post)

[4] Generative Writing or Freewriting? (NOTE: For Me the Former BLOCKS Writer’s Block and the Latter Just EXACERBATES Writer’s Block. You?)

Freewriting helps a lot of people.

I am not one of those people.

However, I tried it because I was “blocked” and people swore by freewriting and told me I was the blame for still being blocked since I refused to freewrite.

I have since learned that it is not for lack of freewriting but for lack of prewriting that I get blocked. I mean, if all it took was freewriting . . . Heck! I’d NEVER be blocked! Ever! Give me a topic and oh, I can frewrite about it! LOL! That’s not the solution for me.

But, even though I knew very clearly and viscerally from experience that freewriting harms more than helps me, I tried it for a major deadline. Because of what people said: “Z, you WANT to be stuck since you refuse to freewrite your way out of this.” This “guilted” me. So I freewrote. And freewrote more when that didn’t resolve things. And freewrote some more in efforts to keep trying and “stay the course.”

Argh. Why did I go against my own mind?!?!! Isn’t the saying “To thine own self be true”? What a mess for me. I ended up with random, unclear smatterings and smatterings of writing. Hidden somewhere within some of these freewriting documents were really, good, needed paragraphs (although needed precisely for WHAT and precisely WHERE in the draft I couldn’t say) amid mostly un-usable paragraphs. These good paragraphs were nested somewhere within 10 to 20 different Word files or Scrivener text files (within one Scrivener file).

Ultimately, my trying to parse through it all, relocate the good paragraphs, and then put it together in some kind of coherent way became a huge, distracting task. I majored in freewrite reading and copying and pasting and minored in draft production. 😦 Boo!

Instead of freewriting, what works for me is sketch writing, and if need be generative writing. You can read about sketch writing here. Generative writing is a mode of writing which I view as similar to freewriting but more targeted. Boice here writes about generative writing and spontaneous writing. I share the gist of how I do generative writing in this post. It’s my own tweak of my merge of different generative writing strategies.

[5] The Role of Prewriting (for Me)

I can’t do academic writing if I haven’t

  1. read (physical copies/books or in digital copies in Mendeley or Citavi),
  2. taken notes (perhaps a tiny amount of preliminary note taking in Mendeley, but otherwise in a toggle-able Docear mind map at early stages and at later stages in Citavi all the way . . . because it affords every step of Dr. Single’s method as explained in the video and book linked below),
  3. annotated PDFs and books (early stages in Mendeley and later stages in Citavi. . . might copy and paste from Citavi into Docear if I need to back up and restructure and rethink),
  4. excerpted quotes from PDFs and books (Citavi),
  5. began to group my notes, quotes, annotations, etc. into topics and subjects, etc. (Citavi, Docear)
  6. Created an outline that does not function like a prison guard (i.e., that I view somewhat flexibly): Docear mind map which exports to MS Word, Scrivener, Citavi, PDF, etc.

NOTE 1: In part 4 of this post series, I include links to my videos or posts about some of these resources.

NOTE 2: This book of Single’s is just about worth its weight in gold regarding how helpful it is in informing academic writers on how to do prewriting that leads to WRITING. Dr. Single shares much helpful advice here: http://www.insidehighered.com/users/peg-boyle-single. The video below gives you a glimpse of what Dr. Single’s book covers. The book is SO clarifying and will have you on your merry, productive, thesis-writing way!

(discussion is continued in the next post . . .)

Working Well To Get Things Done: The documentation manual at this site is a strange . . . find! WELL worth a read even if you ignore the expensive product, IMO.

Greetings!

The above link (to a subpage of a product’s documentation manual) is surprisingly one of the most educational sites I’ve read about this topic since . . . EVER, personally. How random and strange: It was an off-topic item that showed up in my google search for something else entirely.In my opinion, the site’s content is really, really worth a read if you want to evaluate or think a little more deeply about how you operate to stay on a path you want and how you get things done. Goes from discussing the mechanism of having valued goals all the way down to the details of how to design and work through the process a goal requires. Insightfully, insightfully done, IMO.Here’s a link to the documentation manual’s home page: http://www.watership-planner.com/documentation.html. NOTE: I was tempted to skip over reading the Table of Contents item 2 (on how the product works), but it’s really insightful in general about this topic.

Anyway, I’ve done pretty well at resisting posting (I’m on a hiatus from too much blogging so that I can concentrate on finishing my thesis), but I truly felt that this information is so germane to the MA, MS, PhD, etc. journey and I’m getting an education from the material! So strange.  (It’s a product documentation manual)! Somewhat of a hard link to “sit on” if it will help anyone.  But I’ve done well and “sat on” many others, such as this one http://thesiswhisperer.com/2013/11/0…hd-research-2/   The author has some downloads at her own web site that are PHENOMENAL, though. (Really. 🙂 )

Do you have insightful resources to share about self leadership, how to operate to get things done, etc.?
Alright! Blessings, all. Be encouraged, journeyers (smile). Back to hiatus I go. 
Mickey

Developing an Addiction to Academic Writing via S.M.A.R.T. Pomodoro Tomato Squashing Challenges? Hmm!

Greetings!

I just submitted 105 pages and received the comment “excellent scholarship.” Yay!

    

Before diving back into thesising, I thought I’d take 15 minutes to come here to WordPress, choose one of the draft blog posts that I never published, edit it, and publish it.

Below are the results of that endeavor. I hope it inspires reflection or helps in some way.

Also, I wanted to leave a message of encouragement that someone from an online forum shared with me to help you know that you can do whatever research/writing task that is before you (click on the image to enlarge it, for better viewing, in a new browser window):

TrustInYourelfAndTheQualityOfYourIdeas

Please enjoy the blog post below!

Blessings,

Mickey

——————-

Post Content

A few months ago I realized something about my work habits: Instead of instigating writing addiction (see Bolker), in contrast the way I was working was instigating/reinforcing writing aversion. Well, on second thought perhaps that wording is inaccurate: If this makes any sense, It’s prewriting and revising that I was averse to, and not writing per se.

Anyhoo 😉 . . . I had an epiphany one day about a likely, contributing explanation for why I was inadvertently hurting myself with my own work habits with the result of fostering writing aversion within myself: I’d been doing pomodoros (wisely, I felt, because it’s physically and mentally healthier than just working hour after hour after hour, and it gives you sometimes much-needed, true feedback about your rate of progress or lack thereof). However, I realized, I hadn’t been doing smart pomodoros, as in, literally, S.M.A.R.T. pomodoros.

Pomodoro technique + S.M.A.R.T. task methodology. That should work and be good, right?!??

The “T” (Time-bound) and the “A” (Attainable)

Here were my initial thoughts on blending the pomodoro technique with the S.M.A.R.T. task methodology: What if you let the “T” in the S.M.A.R.T. methodology be 25 minutes (since it’s a pomodoro task and pomodoros are typically 25-minutes in length). And for the “A” in S.M.A.R.T.: what if you were to break down all of your larger goals into specific tasks such that every task you list could be completed in 25 minutes? You could maybe even challenge yourself by attempting 35 minutes worth of work per pomodoro: If you did THAT, perhaps then you  would create inspiring challenges and create the experiencing of victory all along the way (instead of that constant “I’m-still-not-done-yet-with-my-big-overarching-goal” sensation of dread). On top of that, another benefit to this is that you would more reside in a state of (psychological) flow during writing, as discussed incredibly helpfully in the “How To Stay Focused and Get Things Done” video presentation. For me, that would be HUGE: Experiencing flow while writing would be SO MUCH OF AN IMPROVEMENT over writing in such a way as to instigate/reinforce prewriting and revising aversion.

So much for the “T” and “A.” I spent a few more moments thinking this through–what a S.M.A.R.T. pomodoro technique might look like. Then I gave it a go. Below are my reflections.

The “R” (Relevant), the “M” (Measurable), and the “S” (Specific)

It turns out that the “R” and “M” in S.M.A.R.T.-goal setting are really important. For me, “R” (relevant) would mean that a task is very clearly a strong link in the chain of getting me done with the writing. “M” and “S” would mean that I list the DELIVERABLE along with the quite specific description of the task. A deliverable could be an outline, a sketch (i.e., a writing sketch of a paragraph), a paragraph in a revised state . . . what have you. But there needs to be some REAL, TANGIBLE measure indicating success. It can’t just be “I focused the whole time during the pomodoro tomato.” Focus is good. Focus + result is better. All this to say that I planned to measure my progress by whether a  tomato yielded a highly relevant (useful and germane for my project) deliverable (something concrete) each 25 minutes.

Trial Run #1

I tested this out. 🙂

First I did a little investigation during which I discovered that in my http://orkanizer.com list of pomodoro tasks, each task was huge! HUMONGOUS! I wasn’t completely doing this on purpose: I really thought I could get many of those tasks done in, like, 4 pomodoro tomatoes (i.e. 2 hours). But I was underestimating many of these. And that was adding to the sense of dread, I realized upon reflection: Always being WAY OVER your number of previsioned pomodoro techniques can really start to consciously or subconsciously feel bad–even if it was a setup to begin with and you’re the author of it all!

Oh, boy: Every task in the list was at least a 5-tomato task or 6-tomato task and most often a 10-tomato task, not including interruptions and errors. My goodness!

The way I was configuring my pomodoro tasks and task list in Orkanizer, it would take a loooooong time for me to EVER feel a sense of getting anything done. That can get demoralizing and become a downer REAL FAST when doing the isolating work that thesising often can be.

So I changed things: I broke my tasks down into subtasks that could be done in 1 pomodoro tomato, “for reals” as my students would say. In that way, every 30 minutes instead of thinking . . .

“I’m stiiiiiiiiiiillllllll working at the task of ____. I haven’t achieved it yet, O. M. G., and it’s been so-and-so many hours of work. O. M. G! I’m so ______ (fill int the blank.)”

. . . instead, the precise same rate of progress could mean accomplishment and thus encouragement and joy. Posthaste I configured my tasks in the Orkanizer pomodoro manager to be finishable in 25 minutes and set my number of previsioned tomatoes to 1. (And from hereon out, all prevision numbers would be set to 1, right? 🙂 )

Results

Did this matter? Did this work?

It worked for 2 tomatoes in a row that first attempt (and this now meant 2 tasks and 2 deliverables!). And it was indeed true: Over time (with more and more use of this strategy), I began to feel very different about the same progress that otherwise would have seemed like “Yeah, I guess that was one more step, but I’m still not done with the task I’m working on. Just 7 tomatoes to go, and then victory. Hoorah?”

And I was SO proud of myself because I had set each pomodoro goal a little high (about 35 minutes of work for the 25 minute). That gave me a different type of challenge and motivation in addition to just needing/wanting to be done with the thesis. It activated curiosity and challenge and my schoolgirl’s “winner” mentality: “I betcha I get this 35-minute-long task done in 25. Betcha. Oh, watch me. Bet!”

Aside: I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve read about how graduate work is a different animal than secondary or college work, and thus typical high-achievers might find graduate work especially challenging, psychologically-speaking, when they hit walls they must overcome. Being un-used to encountering walls, and all. Nowadays, as a novice researcher/writer, more often than not I’m in a psychological state of “This-is-another-new-thing-or-skill . . . am-I-actually-doing-this?” So with the slightly-overestimated pomodoro goal, it was a little nice getting to use my schoolgirl “I can do it, just watch” mentality a little. 🙂

Anyhoo: That first attempt at the strategy, I was working so hard for that deliverable and the reward I’d set up for myself that in the middle of the first pomodoro tomato I developed a technique for speeding things up! (I was also trying to avoid reinforcement of writing aversion at all costs, because I can’t afford it!). And, the rewards kind of matter (i.e., make a difference): I was surprised by that! I’ve tended to have the mentality that just getting done is reward and motivation enough. But these small rewards added something to it all: Instigation/reinforcement of writing affinity. INTERESTING!

I’ve tried this again and again since that first attempt, and I can honestly say that when I’ve “needed” it, it’s transformed things for me. I don’t have to work this way ALL the time, but when I look around and notice that I’m close to HATING the writing process, I realize: Uh oh: I’ve been stressing myself out with these huge, global, globs of writing goals. Time to work smartly.

S.M.A.R.T. pomodoros may not work for everyone. For me, the afforded change lies mainly in my attitude towards prewriting and revising. I think the big take-away for me is not that people’s pomodoros should necessarily be S.M.A.R.T. pomodoros, but that the way one works should work FOR oneself.

A Final Thought: The Writing Reward System and Its Nature MATTERS!

Working on Developing My Writing AddictionAs I alluded to above, if you reward EVERY achieved pomodoro challenge, it can instigate and reinforce writing affinity. My rewards (of course earned every 25 minutes unless the timer runs out on me) include things like my favorite-est, most-est delicious-est tea, hearing favorite and nostalgic songs on Spotify (see the image above), stretching or doing a few crunches to get a little exercise in (makes me feel good to take care of myself), etc.

Question:

Are you a writing addict? How do you ensure that you are developing writing addiction or writing affinity? Does the writing deadline suffice for you so that the ideas of writing aversion, the pomodoro technique, S.M.A.R.T. pomodoros, etc. all seem like time-wasting hogwash? It’s fine if it does: Someone told me as much! Please post your comments! They will help, and we’d love to hear from you.

Well, as always, many blessings and happy writing. Take care!

The Hacked Role of Idea Mason’s “Material” and “Reminder” Items in My Workflow (and a Shout-out to Google Chrome’s MindMup)

Greetings!

For my next post, I’m going to share how I do  a technique I came up with which I all S.M.A.R.T. pomodoro tomatoes (the word “S.M.A.R.T.” in that sentence takes you to one link, and the word “pomodoro” takes you to another link). This technique I’ve come up with is for fostering writing affinity, or developing what Bolker calls writing addiction.

For now, I’m inspired to post about how I’m writing right now. I’m methodical so it’s not super fast for me, but it’s going just fine. I am looking forward to speeding up with all this in the future simply as a by-product from having more experience. I will likely always take a fair amount of time. I write just like Monica Lee says she writes (I feel SO affirmed) in her chapter “Finding Voice: Appreciating Audience” (see Rocco, T. S., & Hatcher, T. (2011). The handbook of scholarly writing and publishing. John Wiley & Sons).

Overall I’m a happy camper. I’ve grown and learned much beyond where I began. I can write and actually understand that I can. Good deal. 🙂

The Reason for the Post: Sharing Three Critical Resources That Have Come to Be THE Difference-Makers for Enabling Me to Write

I was writing today using my resources and realized: “Where would I be without THESE?!??” I mean, nothing’s really a necessity, and even if I only had a typewriter, I’d be pecking away! LOL! But, I do need to document these resources for my future self.

I share about them below.

Of course, your mileage may vary. Especially regarding the last resource, which works wondrously awesomely for me because I can only get out drafts by turning not-so-great drafts into better drafts pretty methodically and visually.

Two of the three resources below I found on my own. One I discovered at PhinisheD.org. Two are pretty normal. One is not-so-normal, and I have completely hacked it!  It’s also slightly quirky, but pays me back over and over for any and all quirks.  Feel free to post a question in the comments or email me if you are testing it out and have questions about how I get the most out of it.

This tool is all about facilitating good WRITING. It is not for final publishing, IMHO (too many little formatting issues and not the best citation method for ME, but other “fans” don’t complain of these). Depending on what you write in your various “text containers,” you can send sentences, paragraphs, sections, chapters, etc. ONE AT A TIME or the whole draft to an open MS Word file. Then you can format (e.g. change straight quotes to curly quotes with a find all and replace all –ugh!) and do dynamic citation via, say, the Citavi Add-in if added to MS Word (that way the reference list gets built automatically). That’s what I do. If you want to try it but are on a Mac, you could but would need to run something like Windows Parallel.

Resource #1: The Single Method of Note-taking and Writing for a Dissertation as detailed here. PRICELESS! I would not finish without it. Many at PhinisheD benefit from it. If you read the reviews . . .

Resource #2: The Handbook of Scholarly Writing and Publishing. Wow. Can’t say anything more because I wouldn’t even know where to begin. (And that’s saying a lot! )

Resource #3 (see image and videos below) is my life saver. Despite the straight quotes thing.  (And dashes. That’s the last thing: Why don’t long DASHES export to MS Word? ). But genuinely, it would take me hours to explain all that it permits for me because of the way I use it.

If it didn’t exist, I’d still finish. But I write 1,012% better with this resource than in Scrivener or MS Word because of what writing is like for me and how writing works and goes for me.

The main, MAIN thing is that this resource allows me to very SEAMLESSLY blend the Single Method of academic reading, note-taking, and writing; the advice in the Carlis “one-draft dissertation” document (ignore the title if you like because beyond it all of the advice therein is just so illuminating for newbies); and Dr. Murray’s snack-writing method as I discussed elsewhere at this blog (feel free to use the search box to learn about it).

Below are a picture and links to videos I made (old videos, now, that don’t show my now-learned hacks but still explain the resource).

Note: The red arrow in the picture points to a tool you have called “Reminders.” Of course I’ve completely hacked and repurposed this tool. 🙂 It’s resizable, it floats with you wherever you go on your computer or the Internet, etc, and you can give it a title. You can open up multiple ones, drag and drop them onto your outliner in the program.

I write my paragraph’s or section’s Focus Statement in one, and let it hover over my drafting as I draft. You can paste and resize images in it (and that is a hack move so it takes a special move to do). Then you can hover the image over your draft as you write about it. One time I opened up two “Reminders” (I call them “sticky notes”), sized them both to half the size of my computer screen, placed them side by side, and placed draft #1 inside one and draft #2 inside the other and compared . . . copying and pasting, transferring headings . . . numbering sentences and paragraphs in order to ORDER things . . . comparing the before-and-after of how the draft read after moving one paragraph . . . etc.

Creating a reverse outline of a draft is super easy: Open a new file, paste your composition in a “text container.” View it. And start building the outliner, which sits to the left of all drafts. Unlike in Scrivener (which is great, too), adding an item to the outline doesn’t necessitate creation of a new, placeholder text file. You can make it so if you want to per outline component or not. You choose PER outline item.

I explain more in the caption to the image below.

NOTE: To enlarge the image for better viewing, please click the image. It will open in a new browser tab.

I set my writing containers to display three windows side-by-side. First I create the writing PLAN in window #2. Then I think about what to cite and what tables, figures, and appendices to use to support parts of the writing I've planned. Finally, I draft in window #1. You can click and send the main text window to MS Word.

NOTE: I’ve totally repurposed “Materials” in Idea Mason. In Idea Mason, you can create different “Materials” (for building draft content) and configure them however you like. I decided to take a blank container type, call its type “(sub)section,” and save the configuration of it to display three windows side-by-side. Every time I create a new (sub)section type of material, it opens up with this layout. Meaning, the comment and footnote are tabbed documents drug to the top. I don’t use these windows for comments or footnotes. Not at all. 🙂 To do good writing with this setup: First I create the writing PLAN in the middle window. Next I think about who to cite to support my intended writing and what tables, figures, and appendices to use to support the parts of the writing I’ve planned. I type that up in the right-most window. Finally, I draft in the left-most window, copying quotes and paraphrases from Citavi because the citation info comes along. Of course I draft referring constantly to the middle and last windows. You can click and send to MS Word whatever you like (the content of each of the windows, one window, or two of the windows).

Here is a link to a post containing my series of short videos about the tool: http://theblossomingfledglingresearc…tware-program/

NOTE: Video #5 (3 minutes in length) is no longer an issue. The developers responded immediately and remedied it. They are very responsive.

You can check out reviews here and otherwise learn more at other pages of its website.

Other actions in my workflow include mind mapping in Google’s MindMup because it’s kind of fun. (I create a child node first to anchor/build everything off of because it then “organizes” better, and then mind map AWAY!) You can drag the canvas, open and close nodes for clarity, export to FreeMind (*.mm), which I do and open in Docear so I can toggle back and forth between the concept map, branching layout and the vertical outline format. You can export your MindMup to a vertical hierarchical format (MS Word, HTML, etc.). NOTE: You can drag the canvas in Docear, too, highlight nodes to size their width, open and close nodes to put away details, etc. You can export both the MindMup or the Docear mind map to Ms Word. (NOTE: The Docear mind map in MS Word opens in Web Layout View so you have to select Print Layout view to “get back to normal.”)

So what are your favorite strategies and what tools enable them? I’d love to hear your experiences. Learning how you write and why and finding ways to do it well are victories indeed. 🙂

As always, take care, and happy writing! 

A Probable Academic Writing Workflow, Given What’s Available as of January 10, 2014

PDF: A Probable Academic Writing Workflow, Given What’s Available as of April 16, 2014

Two to three years ago I was exploring academic writing software such as Qiqqa and Docear. Since then, their developers have made impressive improvements and additions to them, and there’s been a FLOOD of new academic software into the mix. I’ve somewhat had my nose to the grindstone and have missed some of the new software, such as PaperPile. In light of these recent changes, I have decided to maintain a record of my latest estimation of the best personal academic writing workflow that would work for me. This doesn’t mean I’m going to make tweaks now: I’m submitting soon and want to focus there. As has been said by many folks, everyone’s BEST academic writing workflow will necessarily be very individual, to accommodate preferences and needs. For instance, I can’t handle wondering about whether everything that was supposed to be cited has a citation, and whether every citation has an entry in my works cited. Therefore I don’t anticipate removing Citavi from my workflow ANY time soon. Citavi gives me great clarity and confidence in that area. Others trial Citavi and am glad I like it but keep EndNote (or their reference manager of choice). But ask them to let go off Scrivener, and you might have a fight on your hands!

The Process of My Decision Making

Instead of aiming to have the lowest possible number of apps in my workflow, I aimed for

  • Sustainability: Will this product remain available for a while and are any costs affordable?
  • Program and work data stability and data protection
  • Psychology and nature of academic writing
  • And utility: Is what I do or make with this program actually important for my writing? After controlling for sustainability and stability factors, does this program do/enable this thing I need in the way best for me? And . . . OF THE UTMOST IMPORTANCE: Can I move or use what I produce or do in this program out to the next place it needs to be to ultimately result in finished, not-too-hard-to-then-format, sharable writing?

In the end, there’s much overlap among the programs I included (every developer is trying to be comprehensive), not every program is “perfect” (whatever that means!), but what each program does well can be accomplished with no other software (or not well) and helps me finish up writing.

A key take-away I had from completing this exercise was to understand the overlap among academic programs I use and to NOT do double work: Choose which program does the overlapped task best, and work efficiently by using THAT program ONLY for the task.

Here are my preliminary thoughts, then, captured on a PDF and prioritizing what might enable me to write best and most “safely.” Please click on the following link to enlarge the PDF (which contains hyperlinks to the software mentioned in the workflow diagram). The “scary” thought I’m having right now is that if Qiqqa developers were to add the functions of outlining, quote-attaching to outlines, and citation-attaching to quotes, I’d be all messed up! (What to do then, what to do then, what to do, then!) It’s crazy. That’s why I’m taking a step back and just writing down my thoughts on tweaks and keeping with what I’ve got that’s working for me. PDF: A Probable Academic Writing Workflow, Given What’s Available as of January 10, 2014 UPDATE: Now that I’m sitting down to draft, I’m remembering Idea Mason as an amazing outline, sketch-write, and zeroeth draft environment. I have to add it to the mix!: PDF: A Probable Academic Writing Workflow, Given What’s Available as of April 16, 2014

Closing

There’s just too much out there now! I feel it’s good and it’s not. On the one hand, you can spend a lot of time doing work and putting resources into a program that makes it hard to then use the work and resources.So you’d better trial software and plan and choose carefully. On the other hand, there can be no end to exploring these apps and thinking through workflow. Rule I’m imposing on myself: If the workflow you’ve got is working, there needs to be a mighty good reason to make tweaks. I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments. How often do you tweak your workflow? What would you hate to do without in your workflow? Is there too much of all this “stuff” out there now, such that it’s getting confusing? Or is all this influx of choice good? Click the bubble to comment! 🙂 Take care! Mickey

[Video] Easier Writing in Gingko App, the Most FLUID Writing Environment Imaginable

Greetings!

It’s been a long while since I’ve been able to post. My thesis deadline is fast looming, and so this will likely be my last post until I finish my thesis and finish presenting in Spring of 2014.

I’m going on hiatus with a bang, though: Below is a very quickly-made video of how I’m using Gingko App (you’ve GOT to see it) to do the Single Method of Academic Writing, which Dr. Single outlines in her book “Demystifying Dissertation Writing.” Her method is a game changer. You want to know about the method. 🙂 Gingko App makes it SUPER FLUID. But, even if you don’t use her method, Gingko App is still just an amazingly fluid writing environment.

ASIDE: One thing I left out of the video is how easy it is to create the quotes in Citavi by just highlighting the quote in the PDF preview displayed in Citavi, and then pasting the quote into a Citavi quote bubble. This makes quote-gathering a BREEZE!

Well, I hope you enjoy the video. (Click on the little square in the lower-right corner of the YouTube video to expand it fully to a large view.) Please feel free to post comments and/or questions. Take care, and as always, happy writing!

Writing-as-speaking-on-paper versus Writing-as-thinking: Using Due Dates and Sanford Kaye’s Quick Writing Process to Assist!

Greetings!

I hope this post finds you well. 🙂

Heads up: This is a longer post that might be better printed out.

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This morning I logged into PhinisheD to post my accountability goals and give and receive encouragement and KITAs, and I encountered the following thread starter:

It’s 9am (somewhere), does your muse know where you are?

I have adopted Stephen King as my imaginary coach.Coach King says, “Your job is to make sure the muse knows where you’re going to be every day from nine ’til noon or seven ’til three. If he does know, I assure you that sooner or later he’ll start showing up, chomping his cigar and making his magic. . . . What do you do that lets your muse know you mean business?”
 

I took a moment to think about this: I kept dwelling on the word’s “meaning business.”

Well, after yesterday’s super productive writing session, I realize that I probably have inadvertently made my muse’s work difficult! Poor muse! 🙂  And I think I know the main issue: At some point my “writing-as-thinking” needs to solidify/congeal to “writing-as-speaking-on-paper.” If you are a writer-as-thinker type (as I guess I’ve been! Eke!), then this is only done very consciously.

Due Dates, Deadlines, and Email Requests from My Advisor Motivate a Helpful Review of My Work Habits

So, yesterday I buckled down to transition from writing-as-thinking to writing-as-speaking-on-paper, and voila!: By the end of the process, I had 1,058 honed words . . . and counting! NOTE: It helped that I was inspired by an email from my advisor requesting a draft. 🙂

As I noted above, if you are a writer-as-thinker type, then transitioning from writing-as-thinking to writing-as-speaking-on-paper requires a conscious decision. To accomplish this yesterday, I gathered my prior writing-as-thinking drafts and parsed out the best from those to hone a writing-as-speaking-on-paper draft. I did this by using Sanford Kaye’s Quick Writing Process (QWP), or rather, my version of what that process has evolved into for me. I consider the QWP to be smart, pointed, designed, fast freewriting that yields BETTER writing than plain freewriting. Details are below!

IMPORTANT:  If plain freewriting works for you, don’t abandon it!!! Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken! Especially when it comes to academic writing! 😉

My Version of the Sanford Kaye Quick-Writing Process: Designed Freewriting

If you’ve designed it, can it really be considered freewriting? 🙂 I think so! You’ll have to decide for yourself. But again in my view, the QWP is basically smart, designed, free-writing that is less foofery and more pointed and thus more usable than plain freewriting. Here’s the basic method . . . or actually how it’s evolved for me over time

  1. Pretend like you can do no more research. You simply can’t access any more sources or data. You can’t read another thing. You can only write. You can’t even open up a PDF file to check something. You can ONLY write. Just imagine that you are on a deserted island (with plenty of food and water ;)), have no wi-fi, and are working on a type-writer. That’s right: You have no PDFs anywhere, digitally or physically!
  2. Further, you must submit your writing today (within the next hour or couple of hours). How you will do this on the deserted island without wi-fi is besides the point, right? 😉
  3. Start by making an outline of what you need to say, as quickly as possible. NOTE: I limit the whole QWP to 1 hour and give myself 10 minutes to do create this quick outline, and I just list what I think should be in the outline. No self-editing! Just write the outline out. If outline elements get written out-of-order, then no worries: I just number them correctly after: Simple. You are NOT ALLOWED to self-edit during this. If you must edit the outline, then edit it for 2 minutes MAXIMUM afterwards (by numbering outline items, crossing some items off, quickly adding an outline element you think is missing, etc.)
  4. Next is the quick writing: Give yourself 40 minutes to write the best draft you can in 40 minutes. Even if it’s supposed to be a full chapter, just play along with the hypothetical situation: You only have this hour, and you have already used 10-12 minutes of it! All you can do is write enough of the eventual paper so that when you submit this quick write to the powers that be, they are intrigued and say, “Okay, yes. We want to see the full version of this come to light. Yes, we see where this is going, so okay: Go ahead and produce it fully. Why, yes! Carry on! :)”
  5. In the remaining 8-10 minutes in the hour, print out what you’ve typed and make notes on it, such as “I need to say more here about so-and-so. This is too weak . . . need some supporting citations and/or quotes . . . etc., etc. The argument loses traction here . . .” etc.
  6. Finally, get an audience (often this is my accountability partner) and talk aloud from your printout and notes on it. (Kaye doesn’t include this step nor step 5 I don’t think,  but I do). If you have no audience, you can record yourself (no need to go back and listen). The point of this: It is EXTREMELY hard to talk nonsensically for a sustained period of time. You kind of sort of naturally and automatically start adding more words, notions, explanations, and ideas to make it make more sense. Immediately after you do this (or while you are doing this), note the extra words you added when speaking.
  7. Lastly, talk to your advisor or a peer in your field about the gaps you feel remain in your knowledge-base from which to write. Explain to your advisor what info/points/support/evidence/backup from authority that you wish you had. Your advisor might say, “Oh. You need ____ (Shakespeare). He writes about _____, and that will shore up that part of your argument.”

It has gotten harder and harder for me to “psych” myself into believing I only have an hour to do the quick write. So I’ve had to get an accountability partner who contacts me and says, “I don’t have my email copy. You said it would be an hour. Just send what you have.”

I don’t allow myself to view my quick-writes as rough drafts or freewrites. This is because I have to work very pointed, psychologically, to move from writing-as-thinking to writing-as-speaking-on-paper. No: For me, these quick-writes are simply beginner’s drafts. I must begin SPEAKING on paper, and not just continue to think on paper. I like beginning (beginning is GOOD!), and thinking of quick-writing as beginning helps: No pressure. It’s just a beginning draft that may not be all that rough necessarily, and I have begun to speak, on paper. Victory. 🙂

Conclusion

So that’s it! I find the QWP to be an AWESOME way to get unstalled–to just get stuff down on paper so that it’s captured, but stuff that you plan to KEEP largely and that is not terribly difficult to HONE.

IMPORTANT:  Again, if plain freewriting works for you, don’t abandon it!!! Don’t fix it if it isn’t broken! Especially when it comes to academic writing! 😉

On the spectrum between writing-as-thinking and write-as-speaking-on-paper, I consider the QWP to be in between the two but closer–for me–to writing-as-speaking-on-paper. It is FAR BETTER for the way my mind works than producing a stack of meandering freewrites. I can’t TELL you how many drafts of freewrites I used to collect and let stress me out as I tried to read back through them to understand what I was thinking at the time and to try to determine what, if anything, was salvageable and of quality from them. It was messy and a LOT of work.With the QWP, you know exactly what you were thinking: The quick outline spells it out.

I’ve discovered that producing 2 quick-writes for one section, and certainly no more than 3, works. If I leave a week or so between quick-writes, then usually they are sufficiently different for it to be useful for me to have produced a second quick-write.

THE KEY: The quality of a quick-write is a function of how well you have done your pre-writing tasks of annotating and note-taking. Quick-writes based on prior reading alone are hard to do. If you follow the Single Method of Academic Writing, wherein you read a work just 3 times and by the end have cite-able notes, the information is in your head sufficiently to be under your command. And if it’s in your head sufficiently to be under your command, then you can quick write!

So what about you?: Do you find that you get stalled if you don’t separate your thinking-writing from your speaking-on-paper writing? In what ways do you separate the two? Have you been able to make plain freewriting work well for you? Please share your thoughts!

Beta Release of Scapple for Windows

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So, Literature and Latte have recently released a beta version of Scapple for Windows (not Scrapple, but Scapple :)). (They had already released a Mac version.) I gave it a whirl this weekend. It’s similar to mindmapping, but freer. Here is … Continue reading