||[Jul. 12th, 2007|08:10 pm]
Kelly J. Cooper
I failed to meet my deadline. (I was writing a detailed, complex analysis and summary of The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins for money and I didn't finish by the due date.)
I failed for several reasons.
1. I didn't give myself enough time to read the book - it's much more dense and difficult to read (and therefore explain) than I expected. I got the assignment in early June, but was distracted by my upcoming trip to Spain. The Porter Square Bookstore didn't have a copy, but I didn't have them order it until I got back. I'm such a fast reader that I forget how hard it is to read dense material and do an analysis.
2. I should have sat down with the guidelines and written an outline for what was expected immediately after receiving the materials. Instead, I struggled to figure it out when I sat down to begin writing. This not only derailed my motivation to begin writing, but when I'm thoroughly prepared for how to discuss the text BEFORE I start reading the text, my subconscious does a pretty good job of sorting and considering the material in that context.
3. I did a poor job of moving from reading to writing. I should have started doing the summary/analysis of each chapter after having completed the chapter. Instead, I got through four chapters before sitting down and beginning to commit material to writing. This meant that I slowed myself down by going back and re-reading the material as I worked on the analysis. If it had been fresher in my mind and less conflated with subsequent chapters, I would have had greater clarity and speed.
4. I didn't do a good job of pace-setting. Given the density of the material it was extremely difficult to stay focused on the work, despite the fairly conversational tone of the text. I should have given myself a page count or a chapter count to hit every day instead of doing it in bursts.
5. Repeatedly ran into the block of fidgeting, doing everything possible to avoid the work because it was hard and not very fun. I'm not sure how to get around that except to plan better and allow for the wasted time in my schedule.
Things I did right.
1. Stayed off of IM so that I wouldn't be distracted.
2. Forced myself to write even when I didn't want to.
3. Teased out some important, non-obvious aspects of writing a nonfiction analysis for this company (the directions are mainly focused on writing fiction analyses, so their nonfiction guidelines are crappy adaptations of their directions for fiction).
4. Created a handy chart for making notes to myself on important people, objects/places, quotes, and topics for discussion that I uncovered while working through the text. (They wanted a separate section for each.)
5. Communicated with my liaison (who subcontracted the work to me) about my lateness.
If I get another chance to analyze a book for this company, I'll be much better prepared.