Study J(OU)rnal

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This week was probably the worst week I’ve had so far for studying. There are several reasons for this.

  1. I somehow got really behind, and didn’t even start work until Monday! (I usually start on Saturday and try to get it mostly done by Sunday evening)
  2. I had to do an experiment, and I hate it SO MUCH3
  3. Christmas is coming, and I hate it.

Fortunately, I managed to pull it around. Wednesday proved to be immensely productive, and I got not only my normal uni work done, but the extension work (learning about mammals) done too!

Now to the experiment. I had to find out the percentage of water in potatoes, by drying them out in a microwave and weighing them. Simple enough, no?

Apparently not. One set of scales adds an extra 40g to any weight over 700g, the other seems to take 10 minutes to decide exactly what number it feels like stopping on. Point is, I spent over an hour doing this stupid experiment and I hated every single minute of it.

Today I managed to get a little extra work done before the holidays, focussing on Maths for Science, which started off easy and then got insanely hard towards the end, and now my head hurts.

Writing Journal

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This week was a bit hectic for writing, what with it being so close to Christmas. I was seriously behind on my studying too, so I had to prioritise – hence I didn’t do a lot this week. HOWEVER.

This week I wrote somewhere into the region of 7000 words, which I’m dead pleased with, thanks in no small part to a mammoth writing session in my local library yesterday afternoon. I also managed to complete my week’s writing goal, which was pretty sweet.

Last week’s writing challenge: Write the final chapters.

I totally wrote them. I hate the prologue, and I’m not sure about the content and pacing of the chapters, but that’s a problem for first-draft editing. I also started work on the few chapters I wanted to slot into earlier parts of the story, so it’s all starting to come together.

With that in mind, let’s set a new writing challenge, shall we:

This week’s writing challenge: Complete draft 0.5

In other words, finish off the few remaining chapters to give me a complete story, by the end of the week. Then I can have a week or so off, and then I start the monumental task of editing!! Scary stuff!

Study J(OU)rnal

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This week can be summarised quite vividly. If you imagine being punched repeatedly in the face, for a whole week, then getting rewarded with a nice cake on the seventh day, you should have some idea of how my week has gone academically.

The big thing this week is that I have hit my first big issue with the Open University (shock horror). Now, I’m no stranger to being online – I have, in fact, spent most of my life on the internet, so the idea of having my study materials presented online shouldn’t cause me too many problems, right?

WRONG.

As it turns out, you break up my study into webpage size chunks and what you’ve given me is an instruction to switch off my brain. I take NOTHING in. I can pages and pages of websites and not have the faintest idea what I’ve spent the last hour doing! As search, I have had to spend a considerable amount of time working around this, which has been a massive pain in the backside.

I have figured out how to download each week’s worth of work into a PDF file, which I work from (which means I can take notes) and flick back to the webpage for any interactive elements. It’s a pain, and I absolutely hate it. So that’s fun.

I’ve also come across some accessibility issues. The course has started linking to videos on YouTube, which is fair enough, but I have found they don’t bother to provide any guidance as to how to find a transcript of these videos. I found one by accident, and after 20 minutes of searching, discovered the other didn’t have dialogue at all! I think it’s pretty terrible that this isn’t considered in the course materials, and it’s really annoying me.

Now moving away from the fury and on to the good stuff.

I have started doing OpenLearn courses on top of my regular uni work, and this week I began a multi-part course entitled The Life of Mammals. It uses the David Attenborough documentary and book of the same name as the teaching basis, and so I spent most of yesterday learning about marsupials and monotremes. It was AWESOME.

Finally, I have officially requested to change my degree pathway from a BSc Computing and IT, to a BSc Natural Sciences (Earth Sciences specialism). So that’s SUPER exciting.

Writing Journal

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This week was not productive – I failed to do any writing until today, which obviously wasn’t ideal. Fortunately, today was extremely productive.

So today, I took myself off to my local library (woo!) and sat with my laptop and wrote for about 5 hours, with periodic breaks to browse Twitter and procrastinate.

I managed to get three full chapters finished, which means I beat last weeks challenge (which was 2 chapters). That means that I have roughly 3 chapters to finish the book, and then a few to slot in during editing. About 6 or 7 in total. So I think I’m on my way to getting a draft done by the end of the year – but it might be draft 0.5 rather than a proper first draft.

This week’s writing challenge: Write the final chapters.

Writing Journal

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(This was supposed to be posted a week ago, but apparently it didn’t! OMG!)

The end is in sight! Or, it was until I moved the goalposts.

My NaNo project only has 10 chapters left for me to write, which is somewhere in the region of 15-20k words, which sounds like a heck of a lot if I’m honest. Then I’ll have to go through chapter by chapter, refining and rewriting and hopefully, I’ll have the first draft and I can let people see it. Or not.

Also, I’m going to be setting myself goals in the future. Little manageable writing tasks for me to complete over the course of the week, and I’ll be keeping a record of if I manage to complete them. So in that spirit, here is my first goal:

Goal: Write 2 chapters / 3000ish words

Study J(OU)rnal

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This week was designated “Options Week”, the first of 3 over the course of this module. I had to choose what I wanted to study, which was pretty cool.

I decided to study what I thought was advice on how to get the most out of the Open University’s OpenLearn website, but actually, it contained almost nothing I didn’t already know. However, I made the best of it and actually had a really productive week.

OpenLearn hosts a series of mini-lessons on all the subjects the OU teaches. I’ve now been through the website and marked down every biology and environmental science courses that looked interesting (plus a few maths courses) and I will be working through them during the course of my degree. This marks a significant change in my study style as for the first time I am doing more than I am asked rather than the bare minimum.

Study J(OU)rnal

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This week was very up and down in terms of student life. It wasn’t bad by any stretch, just a little challenging.

Most of my studying this week involved mathematics – and I’m pleased to say that I managed to get a couple of the questions wrong. Perhaps that’s an odd thing to be pleased about, but I see it as somewhat of a justification for my taking the access module – proof that my skills are as unpolished as I thought they were. So that gives me something to work with.

We also got the results of the PLEXUS committee elections. Unfortunately, I wasn’t selected for a position, but that isn’t the end of the world. Frankly, I’m just astonished I put myself down for a spot in the first place. It’s a victory in and of itself. So I’m not too worried about it, and there is always next time.

Next week is the first “Options Week” of this module – I’ve never had one before so this should be pretty interesting.

Writing Journal

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This week has, by comparison, been pretty lacklustre for writing things. It’s hard to go from ‘I won NaNoWriMo’ last week to anything – it just doesn’t match up. But what can you do?

I sat down the other day and replotted my book in an attempt to plug a handful of areas that I don’t think are developed enough. I’ve slotted in a few extra chapters in strategic places and started plotting things I need to add when I run through it again.

I’ve only got a handful of chapters left to write before the story itself is complete, which is tremendously exciting. I’m setting myself an arbitrary deadline since NaNo seemed to be so helpful.

My goal is to complete my first draft by the end of the year! After that, I’ll let my buddies read it and then cry when they hate it.

Study J(OU)nal

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Not much to report on the studying front this week.

I’m still more-or-less on top of my work, and it’s still really interesting. Big news is that I sent off a couple of query emails about officially switching to a BSc Natural Sciences (Biology) degree, and it turns out it shouldn’t be a problem to switch if I want to. That’s obviously completely awesome.

Second big thing is that voting has opened for the PLEXUS elections – I’ve cast my votes already, so this time next week I’ll know if I’ve managed to blag myself a spot on the committee so I can start worrying! It’s all very exciting and scary.

Writing Journal

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This week has been totally mad for writing, I’ve been crazy busy, chipping away at the total every day and I’m now so close to beating my first ever NaNoWriMo – it’s all very exciting.

My writing itself has taken a bit of an unexpected turn. My two main characters are now turning in to explorations of my own mind, in terms of mental health, sexuality and relationships. It’s interesting, but at the same time massively freaky to confront some stuff that is really massive for me. Even if the writing itself turns out as junk, it will have been worth doing just to explore my own mind.

As I said I am dangerously close to beating Nano. If you keep in all the planning for final chapters then I’ve already beaten it, but if you remove them I am sitting at exactly 48,000 (which was intentional I’m afraid). So I should beat the challenge by the end of the week, preferably by tomorrow if I’m lucky.

Anyway, here’s my updated stats.

NanoProgressw3