Sunday, June 10, 2018

Day 15: One-third complete

Pretty good progress for one day of work today. I drafted Chapter 3, titled "Study 1: Field observations and problem identification ." I managed 3724 words. I have some worry that it's going to take significant re-write. This is the oldest study in the book, conducted in the fall of 2014. I've written this work more than any other. I ended up free-styling the first half of the chapter before I pulled up some old versions of it and started copy-pasting. The freelance stuff has a potential value, because I wanted to make the chapter fit well in the book. But it could also be full of flaws that I didn't see.

I won't be doing any writing tomorrow. The day will be spent deep in data.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Days 13 and 14: Things are blurring now

On paper, what I've done over the past two days seems straight forward. Yesterday I outline my new study for 622 words, and today I added 395 more. That part is going slow because it requires a lot of spot analysis of data. Also today I produced 1915 words drafting Chapter 6, which is the study from last year. It is also the study that was accepted to the ICLS/AIED crossover conference coming up soon in London. I won't be there because I got me a baby coming. I like London, but not that much.

Anyway, yeah. It all seems clear when I put it down. I'm making good progress. But subjectively I feel like I've been jumping around like crazy and working constantly and I don't have a clear idea of what I've been doing. It's a good thing I'm writing this reflection, updating my planning calendar, and tracking my progress. How does anyone get a big writing project like this done without so much meta analysis?

Well, they probably do it by being much better at writing than I am. But hey, whatever it takes. I'm going to finish this thing one way or another.

Now, for no reason, is a small bunny in a wagon:
A World of Bunnies: a blog dedicated to cute pictures of rabbits. And you thought you were having a bad day.
Image link:

Thursday, June 7, 2018

Days 11 and 12: A framework roughed

It's been a busy week with lots of things cropping up and interrupting the writing process. But in the three "days" worth of writing I managed to complete over the past 5 days, I put down 2834 words and finally finished the framework chapter. Here's a picture of what it looks like.

It took nearly 6000 words to explain. And I'm not actually sure that will be enough.

But at any rate, that diagram is one of the most significant results of the past 6 years of my work.


Friday, June 1, 2018

Day 10: Slogging through the framework

So 1362 new words on Chapter 5 today, but far, far below the goal of wrapping this chapter and moving on to outline the next. After resetting my plan only 2 days ago, I did not expect to hit a snag of this size quite so soon. I think I got through the troubling part of the chapter today, but I'm anxious about when I'll come back to it and whether I'll hit similar challenges going forward.

Well, I guess they don't just hand out degrees for nothing.

Tomorrow I'm taking the day off. We have a baby shower to attend (thanks Bobby!), and a movie to see (oh boy it's Solo!).

It will be a welcome and happy break.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Day 9: Return of the Thesis

Some pretty fantastic results today. My goals were to outline Chapter 6 and start drafting Chapter 5. The new word count = 4592 for the outline, and 1684 for Chapter 5. (There was a massive amount of copy-pasta for the outline. There's no way I could ever write that many words in the two hours it took me to put that one together. Or in a day. Or three days.)

Attentive readers will note that the dateline includes an interval of 3 days since my last post, rather than the two I predicted at the time. Yesterday turned into a massive re-evaluation of my writing targets following some really productive conversations on Tuesday. Also, I was super exhausted and needed a lot of breaks. But it was the right choice, as today's progress shows.

Back to it tomorrow. My plan is to finish drafting Chapter 5 and then move on to outlining the chapter for the new study. I'm a little skeptical that I'll be able to get that far, but we'll see.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Day 8: The Outline Strikes Back

I want to complain today. I really do, because nothing went as planned. BUT, I can't complain. I went back to Chapter 5 today (where I explain my system and theory), and I had thought I would be able to turn the outline into prose. I decided that first I would just do a little tweak to the outline. Nothing big.

3 hours later, there was still no prose, but the outline had gone from confusing and unclear to tight and understandable. I'm pretty happy with it.

Then I had to spend about 2 hours planning, because outlining instead of drafting messed up everything. I also had to reschedule when I had been planning to do my analysis. So everything is a confusing mess right now, but I think I have accounted for everything.

Tomorrow I won't be writing. There simply is no time, but I am proud I wrote every day for 8 days in a row. Then I have 3 days of writing before taking Saturday off as well.


Sunday, May 27, 2018

Day 7: No rest

It took five hours more than I had planned on, but I finally finished drafting the related works section. Chapter 2 is officially v.01 complete. I cranked out 1971 words today. Way above my average daily output. And I am so happy to report that I owe it to my good friends Jim & Iris.

Some background here. Iris is a former HCII grad like what I'm fixing to become. Now she's a fancy professor at Williams College. (Alright, assistant professor, but whatever.) Jim is her sweet husband (and former Qeexo researcher). Business aside, our friendship was cemented through a shared love of Minecraft, as well as many hours of collaborative play between the three of us on their server. (Hence that kick-ass Minecraft themed quilt that Iris made for our coming baby. Look at that!)

So anyway, they drop into town this weekend basically unannounced and ask me and Vivian to come out for a spell. Absolutely. Wouldn't miss it. But also I have only a few hours available before I have to go back to writing, because Chapter 2 is taking way longer than it was supposed to.

Anyway, heading out to go see them I discover that we have a damage rim and a flat tire. (Pittsburgh potholes are famous.) Well they offer to pick us up rather than wait at the restaurant. Then after listening to me fret about how I don't know where I will find the time to get the tire fixed before our pre-baby class in Monroeville on Thursday, they then offer to take it in for us and let me go back to work. We weren't optimistic that it would get solved today, but at least I could pick it up later in the week.

So the garage tells Jim it'll be a 2 hour wait, which was fine because they were supposed to just drop it off. But no. Jim tells him about the friend with the pregnant wife and the guy gets it done in 5 minutes.

But this blog is about my writing. So here's the point: if these kids hadn't done this for us, I know I wouldn't have finished the chapter today. And given the crammed schedule, that would have been a significant setback.

I just can't even describe how moved and grateful I am. I will seriously have to learn a craft so I can attempt to produce a return gift some day. I'm open to ideas.