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Deep in EneMyA Territory!

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The EMA accounts for 60% of the final grade for H818 and I am right in the middle of 'it gets worse before it (hopefully!) gets better' stage.

I have three documents (parts 1, 2 and 3) open, I have six Firefox windows open and a total of 30 tabs open.

Each of my three documents is already over the word count. And none of them is close to being complete (in terms of satisfying the brief) or decent (in terms of academic language, referencing or coherence).

Experience should be telling me that I am always like this a week before a deadline and (thus far!) I have always submitted something complete, decent and which received a good mark.

Sadly - experience is telling me no such thing! Paranoia, with her irritatingly loud and strident voice, is telling me that I can't keep getting away with it! I clearly do not belong on this course at this level and this time they will notice and call me out!

So on the battle goes! I will continue to fight the word count, the library, the search function of Open Studio and my own imposter syndrome!

Send provisions please!

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Picture of Anna Greathead

Word counts... again!

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I had no idea where to begin with the 2000 word part of my current TMA so I began a narrative describing the process I've been through in producing the first two parts of my TMA and the project I am working on.

Got to 1800 words.

Of just nicely written but unreferenced narration!

Argh!

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Nerd!

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TMA01 had specific word limits - part 1 was to be no longer than 1500 words and part 2 was to be no longer than 1000 words.

I've taken quite a lot of pride in writing essays of exactly the right length in previous modules - sometimes adding a single adjective or contracting two words to arrive at the satisfyingly even figure!

So - it was 44 hours before submission deadline and I had a part 1 which was 1494 words and a part 2 which was 998 words.... would those crucial eights words be significant? Could they form the sentence which may push the assignment through a grade boundary? Would my tutor roll his eyes at my having handed in an incomplete piece of work?

I ruminated (on social media) and my 22 year old son posted 'Submit it you nerd' - which was nice! You see - he's one of the more relaxed in the human race. He did the last 6,000 words of his dissertation (that is to say all of it) in the last few days before it was due. He didn't set any records but he did pass!

I am sure that somewhere, on the continuum between me and him, is a sensible approach!

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When the horizon gallops towards you: a reflection on the word count

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There are two types of people in the world:

1. Those like my son who see a word count as a distant horizon. Such people develop complex ways of adding words where none are needed. They may, when writing about Cecil the lion, say something like 'Cecil's brother (who is also a lion)….' just to add five words. The more dishonest among them may write a whole load of stuff at the bottom of the page and colour the text in white hoping that the tutor who marks the paper will trust the word count reported in the document statistics. (I don't think my son ever did the dishonest thing here but he certainly fell into the '1732 words left to write' end of the spectrum.)

2. People like me who view the word count in the rear view mirror and then have to navigate the complex process of reversing! Deleting carefully crafted sentences, truncating carefully selected quotes, shaving every connective, descriptive or emphatic word I've used. 

In TMA02 (in common with every assignment in my OU journey to be fair) I began in camp one. I sat at my laptop determined to do 500, or 1000 or even just an unambitious 200 words before I went for more coffee. And then, as a means of procrastination more than anything, would do one more search in the library with slightly altered terms.... and then another.... and then just one more.... and then I would have so many ideas, examples, quotes and arguments that I realized that whilst the word count was still distant I had become fueled up to such a degree that overshooting it was inevitable. 

So now the scope of my imaginary project has had to shrink massively. It's the only way I can properly fit it into the word count! I will be very VERY annoyed if my feedback comes back with a single comment about how I could have started with a wider vision or expanded further on how the project may expand! 

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