Having finally recovered from my strange 24 hours of sleepiness, I'm now (at 3:09 PM) ready to begin my research again for the new article. As I mentioned before, this project represents new work for me (although I'm thinking that it will allow me to ask some of the same questions I've been interested in for a long time). It's also a "discrete" project in the sense that it's for a collection and I have no real thoughts on pursuing it farther than it being an article in a colleague's collection and a dandy publication. This is the first time I've written something that wasn't related even tangentially to my dissertation topic (broadly construed) in years - and it's made me think a bit more about my writing and researching process.
In this case, I did a bit of reading around (only very little) in the criticism and main texts before beginning the project in earnest. I wrote an abstract for the collection and it wasn't even a half-ass place holder abstract (like, I'm writing on X text and I think there might be something about Y topic there...). So, I'm starting with an argument already in the back of my mind and this makes me feel...better. As I've begun reading the criticism more actively in the last couple of days, I've found that I'm responding to it as I take notes, rather than just taking notes - I'm positioning myself in the criticism already, which also makes me feel better.
But this is the intellectual process - what about the physical process of doing research and getting the draft cranked out? I know that Tiruncula blogged on this a while ago, as have many of you - I'm always interested to hear about other people's processes: do you work solely on the computer? Do you prefer longhand? Yellow legal pads or notecards? Do you edit as you go or just get it down first and work from there?
I myself am a big longhand person - I write notes in a blank, unlined, spiral notebook and then I condense and recopy them on clean printer paper. Then I write a skeletal outline on a couple of sheets of paper and then expand on that - often 15 to 20 pages. I write solely in black ink (the same Opti Flow pens from Staples), unless I'm writing a footnote, which goes in red ink (Pilot extra fine point roller ball pens). I write down practically the entire thing on paper (pretty much edited as I go) and then enter in into a word document. Oh, and on the top of the very first sheet of the outline, I write "What Are You Going To Write About?".
Reading back over this, the whole process sounds exhausting and *way* more OCD than I am in real life (where I'm pretty much obsessive-compulsive only about Coke Zero). But it's the only way my mind can get around the argument and make it coherent. Today, I'll finish a couple of chapters in the current book I'm reading and transfer my marginal scribblings into black ink notes in my notebook. Hopefully in a couple of weeks, I'll be able to finish my outline and start writing. The Tuscany trip will interrupt the process (which I don't mind at all), but I'll be able to dedicate almost all of June to it.