Thursday, July 7, 2016

Using a Matrix for Large Writing Projects

One of the battles I face with larger projects like books or research articles is managing the mass amount of data that I collect. I've always kept handwritten lists, and as I go through the stages of
the project, I check off items from the list. Not very high tech, I'll admit, but the system worked for me.

This past year I've been writing a second edition to my book, A Guide to Creating Student-Staffed Writing Centers, Grades 6-12 (Peter Lang/USA, 2006). So much has changed in the high school writing center field over the past decade that revising felt a lot more like composing a new book. In actuality, and in hindsight, a full rewrite would have been the way to go. We live and learn even after 35+ years of writing.

The Writer's Matrix: For ideas I pondered for the book, I made an entry on the matrix. Yes, it's just a list, of course, but because I put the material in Word, I could search it. Again, simple enough, but a new way for me to stay organized. Below, I'll paste a few shots of the matrix I developed.

My advice? When you begin planning a project, create a matrix and list ideas. You may revise the ideas or add to them, but keep them handy. When the entire project is drafted, go back through each idea listed and search your full manuscript to make sure you at least considered or wrote about the idea. Reviewing the matrix and searching your final manuscript also helps you avoid duplicating information in your project. Again, all quite obvious, but an organizational tool that I'll use from now on. Old Dog Redux & Remix. 

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