Early stages

Thinking and writing – what’s the connection?

“Don’t be put off writing by the seamless coherence of a piece of written work by your favourite thinker. A tremendous amount of thought and rewriting will probably have gone into that publishable draft.”

“I guess some people may have talked about a topic or thought about it so much that they can write about it quickly and coherently, but most of us have to think through our ideas on paper, especially if those ideas are complex. I sometimes write just to find out what I’m thinking about.”

“There’s an odd balance to be achieved for the PhD student. You need to have enough discipline to treat it like a job, so you can say to yourself, “‘I’m going to write every day’, ‘I’m going to have deadlines and I’m going to stick to them’ and ‘I’m going to be professional about my planning’ and all the rest of it”, and yet you need to allow yourself enough space to take advantage that this is the only time in your life when you can spend three years on one subject, so you’re reading around and doing some creative things, but doing them in a disciplined way as well.”

“A professional approach is to try to write about a topic and then, having made an attempt, try to analyse what you are saying. Having worked out what you really want to say, rewrite to fit that idea. That’s the great thing about writing. We can re-examine our thoughts, choose words to give them more precision and eventually we will have coherent thoughts on the page. All that matters then is the final result.”