The Clockwork Muse

“It is almost impossible to live in the modern world and not have to write” (Zerubavel, 1999, p. 1).

A muse is a source of inspiration and when pairing it with the word, “clockwork,” it might mean that our work with the clock (timing, scheduling, planning) could be an inspiration. But what kind of inspiration?

I’m teaching PLS 399 Senior Thesis this spring 2014 semester and we are reading The Clockwork Muse by Eviatar Zerubavel. This book of a little over 100 pages is a practical guide for writing theses, dissertations, and books. Zerubavel describes how to set up a writing schedule and maintain it over the long haul. As The Clockwork Muse went to press, Zerubavel had published seven books and was Professor of Sociology and Director of the Graduate Program at Rutgers University.

The book begins with establishing the writing schedule, particularly delving into finding time during the week to concentrate on writing. Zerubavel says that once you decide when you can write, you should keep track of how effective you are when you write. Keep a journal by listing the days of the week, the times you wrote during those days, and reflect on your productivity. For example, my journal entries were the following, recently: “I wrote on Monday, from 9 – 10 pm and it was very focused and energetic, but too short.  On Wednesday, I wrote from 9 am – 1 pm and it was very productive, I had good concentration, and it was a good session.”

Zerubavel says that you must determine your A-times from your B-times and even your C-times. We want to be at our best during peak writing times – our A-times; however, if our energy wanes, we can do productive tasks during our B-times (checking resources, adding references, revising an outline). And during C-times, we might want to pay bills or straighten the desk!

There are chapters in the book that deal with organizing the process of producing a manuscript, as in Chapter 3: A Mountain with Stairs. A thesis cannot be completed in “one gulp” and Zerubavel stresses that one must think about the project in stages. One of the most effective ways to break down writing the thesis in incremental steps is through the use of an outline. Zerubavel gives a good example of how his outline changed several times as he developed one of his books. Eventually, his outline became the book’s table of contents. And for a thesis, the outline can become the major headings in the paper. The outline can do the following: Aid in the process of writing, help organize ideas, presents material in logical form, shows relationships among ideas in the writing, constructs an ordered overview of the writing.

This has been a summary of some of the main points in A Clockwork Muse. Students and faculty alike who are about to embark on a significant writing project, could be successful by adhering to this guide’s simple but profound principles in developing a certain amount of self-discipline to complete that thesis, dissertation, or book.

Happy writing!

Susan J. Katz, PhD, Associate Professor, Educational Leadership

Zerubavel, E. (1999). The clockwork muse: A practical guide to writing theses, dissertations, and books. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press

 

 

Summer and Fall 2014 registration

Registration for Summer and Fall 2014 is currently underway. If you haven’t yet registered for classes, follow these simple instructions and set your schedule:

  • Review the course schedule.
  • If you receive financial aid and plan to take classes for the summer, check with that department to see if you have funds available for the summer semester.
  • Schedule an appointment with your advisor or contact him/her via email with the courses you’d like to take. Don’t know who that is? Contact our office at 312.281.3134 or 847.619.8730 and we can assist you.
  • Log on to RU Access and register for classes.
  • Complete all requirements with the Office of Financial Aid and confirm your payment arrangements with the Office of Student Accounts. Payment arrangements for Summer must be completed by April 15. Payment arrangements for Fall must be completed by July 31.

 

Criminal Justice Career Panel

The Roosevelt University Criminal Justice Program is having a career panel on April 9th at 2pm in the Gage Building (room TBA). Representatives from the FBI, Illinois State Police, and the Cook County Sheriff’s Office will speak about employment opportunities, strategies, and internships.

This event will be a great way to learn about several criminal justice professions as well as to ask questions about the field, requirements, and the hiring process. Everyone is invited to attend!

There will be flyers posted on the second floor of the Gage Building soon to notify everyone  of the room location. On behalf of the criminal justice program we hope to see you there!

Dr. Long