I had to go to a meeting today.
It was a good meeting.
For me it’s good when other people have the chance to contribute without another person butting in, ready to come back with a rebuttal. In this particular meeting I wanted to hear exactly how a particular communications company planned to carry out a campaign. And although several thoughts crossed my mind as I listened, and part of me wanted to respond, I held my tongue and focused on the speaker. I heard all of it, not part of it.
Too often we listen in “waiting to speak” mode. We’re so anxious to get our own point across that what the other person is saying we never hear. In other words, our point of view is more important than what the other person has to say.
Is there any greater disrespect? Not much. Next time you’re at a meeting, keep your ears open and a zipper you know where. You’ll learn a lot, especially if you’re someone who loves to hear yourself speak.
They are. Thousands and thousands of them from all over. Looking for a job, looking for a break, many glad to be free of the confines of academia. Some wishing they still had something to hang on to.
We do have attachments; attachments to a way of life that is ending. In a blog a while ago I spoke of transitions – that place where you move from one phase of your life to another. It can be uncomfortable, anxious, uncertain.
From my perspective, being uncertain is not a bad place to be, though many parents might disagree, concerned that their offspring need a direction, whatever that might mean. Sure, some grads say they know where they’re going – that they have a clear course mapped out before them. That’s until they start following that course and doubts spring up.
Uncertainty gives you this great opportunity to look around. This is where you can try things on for size. Personally I believe traveling is a terrific eye opener. Go see how the other half lives. Check out another culture. Try out that French or Spanish for real where they don’t speak English. Now you might just appreciate its value. You won’t be afraid to explore, or order a meal in a village restaurant. You might even take a part time job. That’ll give you an experience.
Please don’t rush this uncertainty. Take your time. You’re not about to make a lifelong commitment. It’s OK for someone to say ‘haven’t you got a real job yet?’ Just smile, thank them and move on. This is your life. Not theirs. Good luck.
Not the best lyric line perhaps, but it does focus on the point I want to make. And that is – when you write and edit in chunks, it can be an extraordinarily useful process to get any writing done successfully.
That’s because your focus is on a specific segment of work. You’ve set out the parameters, or borders, and told yourself, this is the area I am going to concentrate on. You’re not dealing with either what comes before, or what comes after. Only what’s in between. Connecting can be done later.
What is a chunk?
I define a chunk as a section of writing that I want to look at as a whole – that seems to have logical bookends to it. Usually, this chunk is causing some kind of problem, it’s bugging you, and the sooner you fix it the better. The chunk mustn’t be overly long otherwise you won’t be able to give it the attention it deserves. That eliminates a whole chapter to a book, or a complete essay, or a review of a movie or play. At the same time a chunk can be very small. It might be a couple of sentences, or a single brief paragraph. The one who decides, of course, is you. Here are some thoughts that might help you make that decision.
A particular section doesn’t want to come together. You’re battling it, it’s fighting back. You love one part of what you’re written, yet for some reason it doesn’t fit with something else and you have to resolve it. That’s where chunking – dealing only with that section – can be so productive.
You have a couple of sentences that just don’t convey what you want to say. As individual sentences they work fine. When placed together they work against each other and you feel stymied. You read what you’ve written out loud and they clash. It’s not coming across.
Working in chunks grants you permission.
That’s right. You’re not locked in to what’s currently on the page. You can play with it. You can try things out. It may take you in a different direction. It may give you fresh insights as to what works and what doesn’t. But most importantly, you get the chance to resolve one particular segment of writing that just isn’t working. For the moment, just get this right. Don’t think about what comes before or after. There’ll be opportunities to fix that later if necessary. When you focus like this, you get clarity. In my experience it invariably makes your work better.
Chunking works for all kinds of writing. If you’re a student in college or high school, try it. If you’re developing a proposal to bid on a job, try it. If you’re writing a novel or a movie script, try it. See where it takes you, see what insights it provides. And remember. Play with it. Give yourself permission. You might be happily surprised at where chunking takes you. You’ll find more on chunking in Ten Steps to Help You Write Better Essays & Term Papers.