Geetanjali Mukherjee

Friday, April 11, 2014

Problem Aspects of Projects: What To Do When It's All A Muddle

I recently read Rachel Aaron’s book on increasing her writing speed from 2,000 words to 10,000 words a day. The most interesting part of the book for me was her editing process, from which I learnt a lot. Not to say the part explaining how she quintupled her writing progress wasn’t interesting, its just that I had read it before on her blog.

Anyway, one of the big takeaways I had from her editing process was how she makes a list of all the problems with the current draft, and goes through them systematically. I guess I must have had that subconsciously in my mind, because I adapted that process for the research report I'm currently editing for the final submission.

I have actually been flailing around with this edit a bit, which is equal parts usual and unusual for me. I don’t usually have a terribly hard time editing, but this is a topic with which I am completely unfamiliar, and I was asked to add a component quite late in the process, which threw me a bit. Consequently, some parts of the report have gone through more drafts than other parts. I was also facing a bit of a crisis of confidence when sitting down to work on it, thinking that the amount of work needed was quantitatively and qualitatively beyond my grasp. I keep procrastinating and spinning my wheels sitting in front of my laptop, mentally wringing my hands. I did make some progress, but in my mind it wasn’t clear how much I had done and how much I had left to do.

Till I made a simple list - by going through the draft from the beginning, I made a list of everything I needed to fix, section-wise. And then I started to tick off what I had already done. Now the work was organised simply, and chronologically. I could if I wanted to, go through it from the beginning till the end, fixing each problem at a time.  I won't do that however.

As I stated in a post a few days ago, I have learned from experience that progress goes quicker if I first identify which parts are the easiest to complete, the low-hanging fruit as it were, and do those first. With a few easy wins under my belt, I feel more confidence to tackle the rest.  So while I am off to complete my editing with much less trepidation and a tiny bit of anticipation, how do you tackle editing / large, complex projects that you are tempted to put off?

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