My goal for this week was to transition towards a workflow that more equitably balances research and writing. More specifically, I had hoped to draft at least a page or two of my first dissertation chapter, which will be on the 1946-47 Jewish Welfare Board survey conducted by Prof. Oscar I. Janowsky. Yet somehow it is now Friday, and I have yet to write a single sentence. The past few days were spent getting organized, and I find myself with at least another few hours worth of prep work to do before I can feasibly begin writing.
I did not expect that this process would require so much preparation. As I have written about before, I'm pretty meticulous with my database, my notes, and how I organize sources. When I sat down to draft the chapter outline, however, I became overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of sources that I have on the JWB Survey. Over the past few months of research, I tagged all of the documents in my database that are related to this topic with "JWB Survey," and so I can quickly and easily call them forward and view them in isolation. Furthermore, I can organize all of the documents tagged "JWB Survey" by the year they were authored, because "19XX" was the other consistent tag I applied. That still leaves me, however, with hundreds of documents from 1946 alone! I now realize that I need to review all of these documents (briefly, quickly, expeditiously, stat!) and add more specific tags such as "Survey Committee Minutes," or "Field Visits to Centers," or "Progress Reports." My chapter will progress chronologically, and so by adding these tags I will be able to quickly isolate only those documents that were written at the moment I'm writing about--for example, in the lead-up to the survey, or later while conducting the survey, or from after the survey was completed, etc.
I'm trying not to get frustrated or anxious, and to instead focus on the adage from the ever pithy Ben Franklin:
I'm telling myself that this is not productive procrastination, but rather a foundational step that will yield exponential benefits when I actually begin writing. Hopefully next week.