25 Gather
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25 Gather The discovering and developing activities you’ve done so far should have given you a general sense of where your writing project is heading and of what you know and need to know about your subject. It may be time to start gathering more material. As you gather, try to stay flexible about the focus and emphasis of your project so that you can make full use of the best information you find. Purposes of Gathering We write not just with words but with information. Whether we get that information from our dreams or our library research, it will seldom come to us at the moment we need it, especially if we’re desperately trying to get a first draft done. Rather than interrupt the writing every few minutes to try to find the right information, it’s better to take a conscious step to gather material. The moves in this chapter complement whatever developing steps you’ve taken; in fact, gathering could be seen as one kind of development. Most of the moves will seem familiar; you just need to make the move. We gather for inspiration, to help us convince, to show us the core of the subject, to prompt us to develop ideas further or in new directions, to give us Gather     201 the momentum to draft. Writers want to have way more material than they can fit in their papers; if you have to leave out some pretty good details, you know you’re doing well. Most of the information writers gather, no matter what the discourse community or purpose, comes from a small number of activities. If you’re proficient at researching online and in libraries, if you know how to ask good questions and listen well, if you can create at least a rudimentary questionnaire , then you’re ready to learn the truly specialized gathering techniques of your chosen discipline—the chemist’s experiment, the psychiatrist’s diagnosis , the social scientist’s statistical surveys. In the era of Google Scholar, full-text databases, and email interviews, gathering is easier than it has ever been. But the novice writer’s instinct is often to just write down whatever is in his or her head and ignore gathering because it doesn’t seem to contribute directly to writing. Try to fight that urge; it’s a rare paper that doesn’t require some gathering outside your own head. I’ve put gathering fairly early in the writing process, but don’t let that fool you. An alert writer needs to be open to gathering all through the process. Some people like to gather everything they can think of before they even start discovering moves. If you like to start with an abundance of information , maybe you should gather first. On the other hand, discovering and developing moves may help clarify the topic in your mind and therefore narrow the field from which you gather. One word of caution: unintentional plagiarism is often a gathering error rather than a writing error. If you forget to put the quotation marks around a great line, in a week you may assume that line was your own. If you don’t write down everything about the website , it may disappear and you’ll be left with no citation information. Don’t let your readers suspect cheating when really the problem is just laziness or an imperfect system of gathering and notetaking. In the academic world, people love to have their words and ideas recognized, but they’re very particular about giving credit where it’s due. Gathering Moves Virtually any form of writing involves gathering, as we “collect our thoughts” and “marshal our evidence.” Even quickly listing your ideas about a subject is a form of gathering—you’re likely to call up thoughts from the far reaches of the brain, and by gathering them on a single sheet of paper, you will start seeing possible interactions among your ideas. Possible focuses and organizational structures may start to emerge. As you engage in any of the following activities , make sure you keep your pen and paper—or laptop—handy and record both the information you’re finding and your thoughts about it. Keep a list of things you need to know or find out. Reading is a key element in most gathering moves, but the act of reading alone does not gather anything. Especially if you have spent a lot of time 202    MOves reading material you weren...



Subject Headings

  • English language -- Composition and exercises -- Study and teaching.
  • Literary form -- Study and teaching.
  • Language arts.
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