Let me explain. From the beginning.
Last week, the toilet at work was out-of-order for a couple of days. I was using the neighbouring toilet, but it was cramped, dirty and didn’t have a nice window view (like the one I was accustomed to). After a couple of days, I decided to venture a little further for a more comfortable bathroom experience.
Instead of continuing straight down the corridor, I turned to the left and pushed open the door, leaving behind the familiar, comfortable air of the corridor and entering a new world of fresh air, strange sounds and interesting smells (namely, the indiscernible student food from the cafeteria below). Within a few steps, a new combination of synapses fired, inspired by a line of questioning I had witnessed in a dissertation defense* plus my own feeling of despair and desperation with my thesis. A new thought popped up:
How can I write this thesis about creativity, creatively?
To organise the cacophony of ideas that started quickly filling my head, I sorted them into two baskets:
- How can I be creative with the final product, and add value by presenting my research in a creative way?
- How can I be creative during the writing process, with the aim of making the experience less painful?
Considering the mood I was in (close to quitting the thesis to go live a simple life in the countryside with the horses and the chickens) I devised, very quickly, a list of ideas which might help ease the writing process. Here’s a snippet:
- Working in different environments, for example the funky, new library
- Smaller, achievable (perhaps daily) goals and tighter iterations
- Blog about my research and thesis progress
So here I am, blogging about my own burst of creativity. I could have just continued with my personal research journal, but so far I haven’t been writing in it regularly and the when I have, the analysis has been lacking. Here’s hoping that the public nature of this blog will keep my reflective “thesis thoughts” much more regular, focussed and perhaps even interesting (I’ve said that before, haven’t I?)
Kept promises or not, what’s the moral of this story?
When you’re stuck in a rut, visit a new loo.
* In his opponency of the dissertation titled How Social Media Changes User-Centred Design, the Swedish professor playfully asked the doctoral candidate,
How have you applied the principles of user-centred design to the writing and presentation of this dissertation?
Which sparked a wonderful discussion about the user-friendliness of the thesis cover colour, and the user needs of his colleagues and the wider research community vs. those of his mother.