While I found the process stressful at the time, I am so happy that we wrote a draft proposal this spring!Not only was it a good exercise in the writing style necessary for our official proposal next fall, but it also taught me about my own project.
I sat down to write this paper, and realized I knew nothing and doubted I could even write it. But, of course, I had to write it, so I had to try. Needing to organize my thoughts into one coherent manuscript baldly pointed out my weakest points. In my case, I believe, my argument is quite weak and I’m not sure it’s actually what I want to argue. Yet this same exercise also helped to show me the way forward. By distilling my thoughts down, I now know moving forward where my areas of research need to focus, and what I need to strengthen.
Likewise, it raised a cautionary flag to me about my scope. Is this really a project that I can undertake? Is my argument trying to argue too much? Perhaps, I have come to think. But, as I move forward with my primary research, I am hopeful that I will be able to strengthen and condense my argument. This would eliminate the thousand different directions I present it in my draft proposal, and would help my overall project.
For my next proposal, I plan to have (as stated above) a firmer argument. I also plan to have a better handle on overall chapter organization. I think this area was also a weakness, fueled by a weak argument that failed to provide the necessary foundation for a sensible outline. And, of course, my next proposal won’t be written next fall. It will be this proposal, rethought and redrafted, before going into summer research. While a shifting focus statement can help organize research and thought, I think this will help to better organize my overall project.