It's been two weeks that I've been "writing" my literature review. Two weeks, and I have produced 1,590 words.
In reality, I've probably written closer to 6,500 words, but I've deleted them all. I rewrote and rewrote and rewrote and ended up having written nothing.
Herein lies my first big mistake. Stop rewriting!
If you consult a 'how-to' book about writing novels, it will tell you to get that first draft down on paper regardless of crappy spelling, poorly developed plot-lines and weak characterisation. I have read one or two of these books in my time, but didn't think to apply it to my literature review. So instead, I got hung up on each sentence.
You can understand why - it's an important piece of work. Important people read it. If I hand in something... less than excellent it makes me feel I am damaging my future reputation and credentials as an academic. But, please, learn from my lesson. This approach leads to writing less than 1,000 words a week. Bad Katy.
The second thing I have learned so far is that you don't always have to start at the beginning and end at the end. My literature review has two (possibly three) main sections. I started with the first section because it was first. It was also the hardest and the one that might get incorporated into the other sections. Now, it took me ten whole days to realise: this was a dumb idea. All through my undergraduate, we wrote experimental reports. I always wrote the methods and results first, then discussion and lastly introduction and abstract. Obviously, that's not it order. I can't tell you how much of an idiot I felt when I realised I should apply the same principles to writing a literature review.
So, in the last three days or so, I've been writing the section about magic, which has been good for two reasons. First of all, it means I'm actually writing something. This is an area I know better and am more enthusiastic about so the words come more easily. That has a knock-on secondary effect - I don't feel like such an idiot. I probably don't need to elaborate on why that's a good thing!
I feel like I haven't progressed much yet. It's like Literature Review and I are in a state of war. We occassionally give each other peace for sleep and so on, but even that's disrupted by random thoughts and dreams that I'm writing. Daily activities bombed by guilt "You should be writing!" and tired-brain "Stop making me do this! I give up! I surrender!" However, I am regrouping and reinforcing my defenses. I wade once more unto the breach. And hopefully, next time, I can tell you "We are in the final stages of war. We shall be victorious!"