Feedback is hard. You’ve produced a piece of work, you’ve worked to create something, and then you let other people see it and instead of seeing the beautiful creature you hoped it would be…they see it for what it actually is. I find that I become blinded by the act of working on something; things that are clear to me don’t come through my writing because I assume the reader is, well, me. Needless to say, the feedback I received from a variety of sources on my thesis proposal was amazingly helpful. Throughout this process, and through peer-reviewing, I found that I so frequently get lost in my project that I fail to articulate it properly to other people. It also showed me how frightened I have really been about committing to a project. This has been abundantly evident in my feedback—I bounce from topic to topic in an unorganized way, and don’t lead my reader through. I don’t give enough signposts to where I plan to go, and enough explanation as to why.
For my next draft, I plan on doing many things differently. First, I’ve come to terms with forming an argument and will be presenting something I feel far more comfortable with. Having my readers ask me questions about my argument, and how I plan to support it, made me realize how uncomfortable I was with it. This made me intensely question my own argument, and settle on something more discreet that I am more comfortable with, and feel that captures the type of history I want to do. Second, I need to be more succinct and organized. My last draft was difficult to follow and contained unnecessary information. In the amount of space I have, I understand now that I need to be more pointed in my content and provide the necessary information instead of fluff. Third, editing. I didn’t edit my copy enough. I need to take time to step back and read my draft with fresh and critical eyes. Part of this is adapting my writing to appropriately address an audience. If I write consciously and with purpose every step of the way, I think this will be an easier task and I will better communicate my ideas. Finally, I know that I am going to change my chapter outline. Of course, this is influenced by my changing argument, but in hindsight my layout didn’t really flow well. I look forward to my next draft as an opportunity to create a project that I can take into the summer excited to research!
3 Responses to Reflecting on Feedback
First drafts! We always bite off more than we can chew. (Your project just invites food metaphors!). Or nibble around the edges. I have no doubt you’ll find the sweet stuff in the center. I think focusing on the proposal structure and on your argument (which will help refine your topic) for this next draft will set up your summer research. And pulling yourself back to ask what your readers need to know to follow along…difficult but always makes for better copy.
I think it is really interesting (and quite beneficial) that you have realized how difficult it has been for you to commit to your project. A thesis is no joke: it is going to become (if it hasn’t already) your child and you will feel the need to protect it and care for it to the best of your ability. Thus, it is incredibly difficult to allow others to scrutinize or criticize it. It sounds to me, though, that you are making fabulous progress, on the way to being open to constructive criticism and possible improvements. I look forward to hearing about where and how you will be undertaking your research this summer. There are some exciting times ahead!
Sara, I too found it a bit difficult to know how to lead my readers through my paper. I feel that with everyone’s input and suggestions, we all will produce a much more refined and better second proposal. I really look forward to seeing how you change your second draft, as I actually thought that yours was quite informative in the first draft. Good luck.