After I handed him very messy, fifty-page draft of a chapter that I had “no idea” what to do with, Prof. Cole Hutchison suggested I re-write the draft with no quoting. That way, I would avoid relying too heavily on quotes (a major weakness of the first draft) and would state a unique argument.
I didn’t take that advice at the time, but a few weeks ago, as I began Chapter 2, I set out to write a twenty-page chapter with almost no evidence.
I skipped around, writing wherever inspiration struck. And I wrote in relatively short spurts, simply trying to add a little each day.
One of the longest sections in my 18-page draft is the conclusion. There, I lay out all the main points I covered in the chapter. Of course, they seem a bit flimsy with no evidence to back them up. But unlike my first draft of Chapter 1, Chapter 2 is not a complete mess of tangents. It is compact. It is full of ideas.
The next time I dig through my notes, I will be digging with purpose. I know what I want to say–what I am saying.