Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Working Vicariously

I've heard it said that one reason for the prevalence of blogs is that reading them is a way of living vicariously. For me, it's a way of working vicariously, or learning about how others work. Like many people, I get quite a bit done, but it never seems to be enough.

For example, for years the Chronicle and other publications about academics have asserted quite offhandedly that of course everyone has a trusted circle of readers, or at least a writing partner, to read manuscripts before they're sent out. It must be true for a lot of people (as evidenced by various blog posts), but I wonder how many other academic outliers have no experience of such a group.

Keeping a research journal is another thing that bloggers and some colleagues have discussed; Dr. Crazy posted about this some time back. I immediately had all the wrong kinds of questions: is it kept on paper, in a notebook, on a computer? Is there software for this? Is it for concepts, details, quotations, articles? How's it organized? I have a system, more or less, for keeping track of my projects, but this sounds like a better way.

Equally good are all the discussions of words written, hours of writing completed, to-do lists with items crossed out, which taps into the whole 43 Folders/Lifehacker delusion that if it's just organized properly, that list will shrink and the words will flow from the keyboard with style and brilliance (aka the Michael Bérubé fantasy).

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