I am continuing to write this week and starting to ebb into a zone of saturation. It's not so much the writing but more to do with reading. Each paragraph I write takes about 3 or 4 hours just because of the citations I need to put in place. It's a little faster if I know what I'm going to argue. I that case, I just search for some relevant papers and intersperse some cites. But sometimes I have a notion of what I want to say, but when I start to read around the topic, I find something better or an interesting tangent that I have to consider.
As a result, it's easy to get lost along this path of writing. In the past, that would have set me off on several days (or weeks or even months) of going down a tangent only to find it was all a waste of time and I should have stuck with my instincts. But I think my instincts are getting better. I'm improving.
This morning was an example of that improvement. I wrote up some stuff yesterday. I wasn't really that happy with what I'd written but I couldn't put my finger on why. Then, this morning - maybe while I was still waking up or during my shower or breakfast, or perhaps while walking the dog - I got an insight. I was going in the wrong direction and really should be writing the work slightly differently.
Rather than take my instincts for granted (they're still not that finely honed after all, as a mentor would likely remind me), I called a good friend and colleague. Someone I trust to tell me what I'm doing is right or wrong, and where the most compelling story is, and the most straightforward argument. In the end, all that was needed was for me to talk through it with someone. I solved my own problems. My friend simply was there to confirm what I was doing was right.
It's an improvement. I've only "wasted" half a day going in the wrong direction. And much of it I can use in another part of the paper.
Now for the next section: I anticipate 2 days work. Ugh. Soon I can do data stuff again!