What has 742 got to do with anything? Apart from the Simpson’s home address, pictured above, or sounding like the latest Boeing Jumbo-jet, 742 has become my nemesis.
If you haven’t gathered already, I can get quite mathematical when it comes to workloads and results, calculating percentages, words remaining, marks needed in exams based on coursework etc. The list goes on. It also helps that I own a calculator!
My latest number, 742, represents my self-appointed average of words written on my dissertation per day. Now this may all sound quite anal, but there is method to this madness, so hear me out! From last Sunday to Thursday 26th April when I’m going home for a few days to see my girlfriend, I had exactly 10 working days to write and edit the remaining 7421 words of my dissertation, or roughly 742 words/day. I wanted to be in a position by then to have finished writing and started editing before final editing and printout when I return. As we’re given between 8 and 10,000 words, I want to make the most of this limit, and as such have sought to push myself to achieve it. D-Day (My friends term for Dissertation Deadline Day) is on 8th May at 4PM, and I picked up our red submission folder this morning – things are hotting up!
As a history student, setting yourself achievable targets is a good way of ensuring you actually get the work done. I know from past experience that at a very slow pace I can do 200 words/hour, and if I’m really pushing it around 600 or more. As the dissertation is the biggest thing we’ve ever had to write it can seem quite daunting at first, but writing a thorough plan and attempting to stick to it is a great way of ensuring peace of mind knowing where you want to go as well as achievement when you get down to writing. Additionally, as its split down into manageable chunks, each section can be tackled as a mini-essay in itself!
For example, my dissertation plan is as follows:
Intro: 1250 words, Ch1: 1500, Ch2:1500-1750, Ch3:1500-1750, Ch4:2500, Conc: 1250-1500 .
My “742” therefore is a good measurement that I am on target, that I’m working at the right pace, and if I exceed that it means I’ll have more time for crucial editing and relaxing at the end! 742 words is only, afterall, a few hours work, and today for example I finished my Introduction at 1245 words.
So next time you’ve got an assignment, spell it out in your head. How many words is it? What’s your plan? How long do you think it will take? When is the deadline? In doing this, you’ll find yourself better prepared, and the actual writing of it should flow fairly quickly past your reasonable targets. Tomorrow I’m having a calculated day off from writing, but straight back on it Thursday morning!