When I read this post over at the Eventual Librarian, I was very jealous. Imagine being about to complete an assignment without hysteria – I certainly can’t. Fortunately, Kate posted two followups: How to write a paper for library school without hysterics, part 1 and part 2 to explain a bit more about how she accomplished this miraculous feat. I like many of Kate’s suggestions – most of which have to do with using automated tools in favor of highlighters and post-it notes. This saves one time since anything written by hand will probably have to be entered into a computer at some point anyway. I agree with Kate on this. However, I need to confess that although I do use some social applications/web-based applications like del.ico.us, Google Notebook and Refworks, I still do most of my work by hand. I have started writing some of my papers on my computer, but still hand write papers more often than not. For some reason, I find it easier to to get the paper written by hand – when I am curled up on the couch in front of the tv with my big, 5 subject notebook. When I type a paper from scratch, I feel like I have to edit it/revise it/fix it as I go. I often find it very difficult to get beyond the opening paragraph. I use highlighters and paper notes on a daily basis – especially since I can’t stand to read articles and/or anything of length on the computer screen.
Although I haven’t gotten the knack of taking notes on the computer, I have to second Kate’s advice about using introductory and concluding paragraphs, using book reviews to narrow down sources and using RSS feeds and blogs as a source of information. When doing papers or projects, one has to learn how not to read everything. If you can’t scan the introduction to a work and immediately decide if the item is relevant or not, you will waste a great deal of time.
Anyway, it is time for me to get back to work on my paper. I can say that one important part of being able to write a paper without having an attack of hysteria is to actually work on the paper – and not allowing other things to get in the way (like blogging). Thanks for sharing your methods Kate. I appreciate it – and am looking forward to your next installment.