March Update, Learning About Writing (More than Before)

Usually when I write these posts, I try to write a small essay on one area that I have been researching. For this post, I’d like to give more of a reflection on writing itself. As I come closer and closer to the end of the project, I’ve moved more from researching to writing (although I’m always checking myself with my sources). I’ve written a lot about the Second Sophistic, the Odyssey, the Aethiopika, and the relationships within (for any questions on those topics, see previous posts). Now it’s all a matter of tying everything together in a coherent fashion. All I can say is that when I write a short paper, I attempt to figure out my thesis/basic argument of the paper (surely an important element), the arguments and examples for my thesis, and the order in which I ought to state my evidence and examples. After planning all these things beforehand, I write the paper pretty quickly in the way I had planned (unless it becomes clear that my original structure needs to change). In this case, however, I’ve found that all of those things have changed a lot over time, even if the basic topic has remained the same. I wasn’t able to plan and outline a thesis-sized paper (in my case, it will be somewhere around from 40-60 pages, which is substantially longer than anything I have ever written before) all at once. With a general goal in mind, I wrote a section and then another and then another, and then figured out step by step how to construe all of the things I wanted to say. It’s been a good process that has helped me to grow as a student and especially as a writer. I haven’t even gotten to the point of making my prose as lovely as possible (e.g. by eliminating passive verbs and such), since the focus has rightly been on making sure that I construct an argument effectively. At some point, I will have to go through the prose with a fine-tooth comb and pull out the knots – the unnecessary passive voice, overly wordy expressions, etc. – but right now I just need to make a reasonable argument. And to not be a perfectionist (writing the thesis has helped me with this too). The thing about writing not-completely-perfect prose is that you can always edit and improve it later! 🙂

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