Free-Form Writing: The 4 phases

In my previous blog post I described how writers and researchers can use a stream-of-consciousness tool which draws upon Integrated Intelligence (similar to spiritual intelligence) to write up a thesis or book. I call that process Freee-form Writing. But what does that actually look like when you go about completing the thesis or book? In this blog post I am going to get more specific and show you exactly that. What follows is an extract from by Kindle book How to Channel a PhD (which can also be found in multiple formats on Smashwords.com). Enjoy your studies!

Marcus

 

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Here I am going to briefly outline the stages of thesis writing that you will go through, as you employ Free-form Writing. For more details on each of the phases, I strongly suggest you purchase Joan Bolker’s (1998) Writing your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day. Bolker describes a similar process. The following scheme will be most suitable for those using a qualitative methodology. If you have field work and data collection, obviously there may be some differences. But these are the basic phases.

  1. Free-Form Writing. Write, write, write! As soon as you have made a decision to enroll set aside at least fifteen minutes a day, at least five days a week, to do Free-Form Writing. Alternatively, set a minimum word count, as I did. I wrote five hundred words a day. I describe this stream of consciousness approach to writing in Part 4, above. The key is to JUST WRITE! The only rule is that it has to be about your intended thesis topic. If all that comes to you is a bunch of gut feelings or “I don’t knows”, well, that is what you write. If you can’t remember the citation or writer’s name, it doesn’t matter. It might look something like this:

“Phil Wots ‘Is Name? made a similar argument about evolutionary psychology, I think? But is he talking about the same point?? I’ll have to read his book “The something? Syndrome?” to clarify that. But I really like Phil’s stuff, and I could write about that in a later chapter. Education systems are too rigid, and I really want to find more thinkers who have practical suggestions about how to fix that. Professor L at uni would be good to talk to in that respect.

Remember though, you should be reading extensively during this early phase of your enrolment. The more you read, the more you will have to write about. Quite often what you write will be a lot clearer and more detailed than my example above, and that is great. In fact some of it should be good enough to form part of your first draft. By all means, file the daily writings under headings (or in different files) to keep it all organized. Just don’t worry about dotting the “I”s and crossing the “T”s at this point. It’s going to be messy, and that’s okay!

2.      First drafts. At some point you will want to begin to put together a draft of a chapter of your thesis. The time frame will vary, depending on whether you are a part-time or a full-time student, and also according to all the variables that go with embarking on a thesis. Generally, I think the sooner you start writing a first draft the better. If you have more than fifty thousand words of free-form writing stashed away on your computer, that probably means you are ready to start putting together a first draft. Naturally, you will have to modify your writing to make it more precise, focused, and academically rigorous. Of course you can still continue to do Free-form Writing during this time if you want. It could be related to your chapter, or not. That’s up to you.

When you have your chapter done, there then comes the moment when you send it off to your supervisor. Expect criticisms. There are usually plenty of them. Don’t take them personally, and don’t let them sap your confidence in your intelligence and intuitive wisdom. Listen, and make the required changes. If your confidence takes a beating, try some of the Affirmations and Creative Imagination, as I outline in Part 6.

3.      Later drafts. When you have made the requested changes to your first draft, it doesn’t end there! You will most likely have to re-submit the chapter(s) to your supervisor repeatedly. I think I probably did ten to fifteen drafts for all my thesis chapters! Yes, this is the dry end of thesis production, and the bit where many candidates start to go a bit batty! But bear with it. It does end – eventually.

I highly recommend you find a third party (other than your supervisor) to read your thesis before you submit. This should be someone you trust, who has a doctorate themselves and knows what they are doing. I did just this, and the comments were priceless. I ended up cutting thirty thousand words out of my thesis. The finished product was a whole lot tighter and more readable as a result!

Finally, get an academic editor to proof-read your thesis, to make sure it adheres to all the academic protocols. They will also pick up all the typos and grammar errors you and your supervisor have missed (and you will miss some).

4.      Changes after examination. It’s quite likely your examiners will ask for changes after submission of your thesis. Hopefully they will be minor, but major changes are often required. Again, don’t take it personally. Just keep working away, one day at a time.

As your candidature progresses, the whole process will become less creative and inspirational, and more about the nuts and bolts of thesis production. This is inevitable. This can be slightly torturous for creative and intuitive types (and if you are reading this book, you are probably one of them). But don’t you dare think of quitting just because this part is not as much fun! It’s just the price you will have to pay if you want the tile of “Dr.”

Having said this, listen to your intuition throughout the duration of the thesis, even towards the end. You will probably still get bits and pieces of inspiration, maybe even dreams and visions in meditative states. Keep writing them down in your Intuitive Diary – and honor them!

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