Jean Is Writing

This week I’m writing a paper about a short Shaw play called Village Wooing. Eventually I hope to turn my paper into a PowerPoint presentation for a future Shaw conference in…Spain!

This entire week I have been preoccupied with writing. In fact I skipped my weekly water park visit  (we live 15 minutes away from Legoland) because I was having so much fun with the paper. (My husband shook his head in bewilderment, but it’s true.)

Today we were headed out the door for our regular pizza outing when a sentence for the paper popped into my head. Charlie waited by the door, keys in his hand, while I ran to my computer to type it. By the time we arrived at the restaurant, I had a whole paragraph worked out in my head. I kept repeating it to myself until we got to our table, and then I grabbed a paper napkin to write it down.

I know, I know: academic writing is supposed to be drudgery – and so is reading it. Heaven forbid that you should have fun…or your readers should enjoy it!

My philosophy is just the opposite: if it’s not fun, why do it? And so my brain has been working overtime for a week now trying to come up with unconventional ways to make points that – frankly – wouldn’t startle or amuse anyone. Tune in again about a year from now (the conference is in May 2020) to see if I pulled it off.

A couple of tricks are making the writing much easier.  One is that the full texts of all Shaw’s plays are posted online. I can copy and paste dialogue from the play instead of retyping it – a great timesaver.

Another great trick is reading quotations from scholars into an audio text on my phone (I use the Evernote app). Saves a lot of typing!

Some advice for you: before you sit down to tackle an arduous writing task, ask yourself what you can do to make it easier or more fun. Is there anything about it that looks like fun? Can you throw in a surprise or two for your readers?  They’ll be grateful!

  Judi Dench in “Village Wooing” by Bernard Shaw


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