The last two or three weeks have brought a couple of writing opportunities my way, some of which involved extensive prewriting and others that involved very little. I can without a doubt say that the prewritten papers were much, much easier to finish.
I mentioned a couple weeks ago that I submitted a paper to the secrets and lies CHI 2008 workshop. The paper drew on material that I worked with all summer and was fresh on my mind. I had been thinking and working through a topic related to the workshop for a couple weeks and had chunks of the paper prewritten before I discovered the workshop. Taking the prewritten materials developed over a couple of weeks and converting them into a “submittable” workshop paper was a mostly painless process.
Last week, I was involved in another workshop submission which wasn’t as easy to produce. The material was new and didn’t come with the benefit of having been on my mind for a couple weeks. It was noticeably more difficult to write coherent sentences than in the heavily prewritten paper.
I “cheated” a bit (anybody surprised?) on the prewriting assignment for I590. Instead of prewriting for an imaginary paper, I decided to prewrite for the design theory assignment due this coming week. The prewriting experience for the design theory assignment has been very positive. Entering a mental state that isn’t concerned with completion, accuracy, due dates, etc and just exploring the problem space is very helpful and even a bit [nerd alert] fun. On this deliberate prewriting exercise I was able to find a spot at which I realized my prewriting was sufficient enough for me to complete the assignment, sort of a point of diminishing returns for prewriting.
For the curiously bored, here’s my unformatted prewriting stuff.