Tag Archives: Endnote

What I’ve learnt so far (a list)

The model is writing postcards

Image via Wikipedia

I’m not sure if it’s because I’m writing so much on my thesis that I have nothing left for my blog, but needless to say it’s been a while. I read somewhere that most new bloggers stop posting after about three months, and I was determined not to be one of those. So here’s my first post for the new year – a list. Part of why I write phd with kids is to create a small community of thesis writing parents who can support each other by sharing what works (and what doesn’t). The other part is harder to describe, but has something to do with connection, with me talking to you, and with the writing rest that blogging provides.

So here’s a list of what’s working for me (for a much more prosaic and beautiful list, check out Henry Miller’s work schedule from 1932-33). I spent much of my first six part-time months wandering in circles, learning Endnote and Scrivener, getting to know my faculty librarian, and working on publications. I now have a short story called ‘Dose’ in Polari Journal, a poem called ‘The Second Cup’ in a Melbourne Poets Union anthology titled “The Attitude of Cups”, and a critical essay coming up. But still I had the sense of having done very little. Except that when I started full-time (which for me is three child free days a week) on the first of January this year all that circling turned out was actually foundation building, and I was off. I’m not saying I’ll always be on such a productivity splurge, but right now the words are flowing, the reading makes sense, and I’m loving my life. Here’s my list (please feel free to add to it in the comments):

  • If I’m at my desk (and ready to go) at 9am then I have a good start to the day.
  • Writing for an hour without a break on each of my work mornings means I can spend the rest of the day reading, researching, editing, and rewriting. I got this idea from attending a seminar titled “The seven secrets of highly successful research students”. The chirpy self-help, you-can-do-it title meant I approached with extreme caution, but thanks to this particular technique I have nearly 12,000 words.
  • Working from home results in about thirty percent less productivity, and a gazillion more cups of tea.
  • Scrivener rocks. Seriously. If you don’t know what it is and you’re a writer (and even if you’re not), find out. The Thesis Whisperer will tell you why.
  • Getting to know my Faculty Librarian has been brilliant. Not only has she helped me work out which databases to search, how to set up alerts, and explained the mysteries of Endnote to me, but she’s a friendly face, and once she got twenty books off the shelves for me because I couldn’t get any child free time in the library.
  • Saying I’m going to work is the best way to describe what I’m doing. It means I only take a day off if I’m genuinely sick. It means I have a lunch break, but the rest of the time I stay at my desk. It also means that my loved ones and friends treat me like I’m working too.
  • Being paid to write and read and think is the most amazing thing that’s ever happened to me (after my kids).

A baby in the library

I’m learning a new library. I’ve spent enough time in university libraries to be able to find my way around, but it’s the fine details that I need to get a handle on. Fine details this time around include finding the lift so I can get the pram around and working out where the accessible toilets are so Sparrow doesn’t have to sit in the corridor (or on a toilet floor) while I wee. I am overly anxious about the noise he makes. Squeals or sleep moans or cries or grizzles. Other students speak loudly, their phones ring, check out kiosks beep but somehow, in my overly worried head, this is allowed noise. A baby in the library seems wrong. I have to work on behaving as if I (we) belong.

Two weeks ago Sparrow and I went to some training. Endnote A. And then last week Endnote B. I contacted the trainer before I registered and checked. Yes, she said. Fine. When we got there, in a quiet aside, “You will take him out if he gets upset won’t you? Just better for everyone that way”. I agreed, and the training proceeded.

Sparrow rolled around on a blanket and tried to eat the nappy bag straps. I learnt how to create an Endnote library. He grabbed his feet and grinned. I imported references from Google Scholar. He breastfed. I typed one handed and learnt how to switch between APA6 and Harvard. And again this feeling, that it is possible to do this thing (and also a rush of geeky excitement – hooray for Endnote, and for never having to format a bibliography by hand again). There is a baby and his Mama in the library, and we are finding our way.