A few days ago I submitted a chapter for an edited collection on Speculative Futures for Artificial Intelligence and Educational Inclusion and I thought I’d take a moment to share some of my experience in writing it. When I talk about writing with colleagues I get the impression that they’re waiting for the moment when writing becomes easier, and are therefore in a continuous cycle of disappointment because it never does. This public service announcement is for anyone who thinks that you will one day arrive at a point where writing is easy.
The original abstract was submitted about 4 months ago and represented what I thought would make a compelling contribution to the collection. But over time I realised that the argument I was trying to make felt forced and I just couldn’t get enough out of it to make it worthwhile. This is after 2 months and about 6000 words. About a month before the due date I decided to throw most of it away and start again, this time from a new position that I thought was stronger and would make more of a novel contribution. I deleted about 4000 words.
After a few weeks, I had my first full draft of about 8000 words that needed to be cut to 6000. At this point, I started printing it out and editing by hand. After editing on paper I go back to the digital version and rewrite. Then I print it again, edit, revise and print. I usually do this 3-4 times before a final submission. The pictures below were taken on the 3rd revision of the full draft. You can see that I’m still pretty dissatisfied with how things were going. Maybe it’s because I’m not a very good writer, or maybe my thinking was still incoherent.
When I finally submitted the chapter I was still pretty unhappy with it. There were significant parts of it that felt rough. There were still a few weak arguments. Some of the sentences were awkward. And to top it all, I’m still not entirely convinced that the contribution is going to add much value to the collection (because, imposter syndrome). Now that I’ve spent 3-4 months thinking about the topic I can’t help feeling that it’s pretty average.
Maybe I’ll get better with the next one? Maybe that’s the one that will be right. Or, maybe writing is just hard.