The word count of essays that aren't essays
- 768 words
- 4 min
As you (probably) know, I've just restarted this blog, and this is my fifth total entry. One of my goals for this blog is to try to write one entry every day for as long as I can, with the purpose of creating a habit for me to keep. My hope is that I am able to turn this blog into somewhat of a diary, a record of things that I've thought about and things that I've done, and as I continue to write, the time that is put aside for writing entries will allow me to think through and articulate ideas and concepts that I have throughout the day.
One of the interesting observations that I have already (especially considering that this is only the fifth day of doing this!) is that I've already written 3270 words (not including this entry) for this blog. That's almost as much as my research proposal for my Masters' thesis (which clocks in at 3429 words), and about half as many as my final thesis is expected to be.
3270 words in five days seems insane to me, especially considering that a good two-thirds of that was in the last two days alone, and none of these entries has taken me more than perhaps 45 minutes to write. I've certainly never before had an easy time writing a lot of words, especially in one sitting - regardless of the topic. My proposal took me close to four weeks to finish, and the complexity analysis that I wrote not long after took me nearly two weeks of straight writing (and I'm still editing it). So what makes these so different? I have a few theories.
For one, these essays are written with comparatively little research. I certainly have done research for them (my entries on contact without social media and esports probably never being mainstream both had some rudimentary research done for them), but compared to a university essay? It's not even close. The amount of time that I sank into researching my research proposal does indeed show, whilst I only have 15 references - which seems relatively paltry for a research paper - its proposal on a topic which I had no experience in. Both papers on gravitational waves and the literature on refactoring are not usually part of my daily reading. My unfamiliarity with the topics only exacerbates the issue of actually needing to read the papers. One of my references in my research proposal is a 204 page PhD thesis, upon which my research builds. Reading 204 pages takes enough time, but considering the mathematics and physics behind gravitational waves was not something I'd seen before, it took even longer for any of the content to actually make sense. So certainly, the amount of research plays a role.
Another potentially contributing factor is the style of writing. Most of my university essays are written in a very formal style, and it is important (at least to me) to be as concise as possible whilst wording any given sentence. Why spend paragraphs trying to explain something that could be explained in a sentence? (although sometimes you want to spend the paragraphs if the topic being explained may be obscure) In contrast, the writing in the blog (so far) has been mostly prose. I sit down in front of my computer with an idea, and I leave 45 minutes later with the equivalent of my thought pattern put into words. My sentences and word choices aren't as carefully chosen, and my tone is far more casual. This means that the amount of time that it takes for me to construct any given sentence is scarcely more than the amount of time it takes me to think it, and although I do edit a little before publishing and do roughly plan the order of what will be said, my typing speed whilst writing these posts is almost always approaching full speed.
Regardless of the reasons why (there may be even more that I haven't immediately thought of), I do hope that some of the apparent efficiency with which I've been able to type these words can be translated to my university work. I have a large number of essays due this semester, with each unit having on average at a little over one essay each and my thesis being due by the end of the semester. If I could somehow take some of this speed to add to my more formal essays, the coming semester will be significantly easier.