I had one of those moments last night. I know them all too well. They usually begin with the best of intentions (“I AM GOING TO WRITE ALL THE THINGS TONIGHT AND MY PAPER WILL BE AMAZING AND MY TEACHER WILL BE BROUGHT TO TEARS WITH THE BEAUTY OF IT AND OMG I LOVE HISTORY SO MUCH!”)
And then I sit down to actually write the damn thing, and within a half hour I’m searching frantically through my notes for the quote I need, or the information that I know wrote down, but there are about 30 articles spread out on my bed and I can’t find the exact one I’m looking for, and I’m getting more and more tired by the second and I’m getting a headache from staring at my computer screen, and the clock is ticking away. All of a sudden it’s almost 10 PM and I’m only about 8 pages into what needs to be a 10 page paper, and I’m missing about 8 sources (that I know I printed and researched but are now missing somewhere in my apartment).
That’s usually around the time when the breakdown occurs. I start freaking out because I don’t understand why it is so important for me to have to write an annotated bibliography, and the unfairness of spending four years of undergraduate college learning and perfecting the MLA method, only to turn around and be a history major, where the appropriate citation method is the Chicago method. That leads to cursing Kate Turabian, the history department at my university, Zotero, and my own idiocy for thinking that I could do this. It’s around this time that I start saying things like “This is it, this is going to be the paper that undoes everything and makes me fail out of the history grad department” and “Being a secretary for the rest of my life isn’t that bad, right?” And all this…is usually a sign that I am done writing for the evening.
When all was said and done, I had about 8 pages of my prospectus finished. I completed Part I (statement of topic, questions, importance of research) and am about 3/4 of the way done with Part III (annotated bibliography). Part II (literature review of all the secondary sources I have) has yet to be started, because I realized last night that I was missing half of my secondary sources. Never fear, I had kept the links to all of them in my Zotero file, so it was easy to go and print them all off again. And this afternoon (which watching “The Help” with my sister), I will go back and highlight them all, and be prepared to write my lit review.
It’s only 13 articles…all between 11 and 22 pages.
How long can it possibly take?