Some articles I’ve written feel like a stream of consciousness. They follow my train of thought, and completely disregard essay formats and typical narrative structures.
An example would be my recent article on Pragmatic Dreaming. It started as a piece rooted in ethics with references to Kant, while contrasting holding future dreams and having short term objectives.
However, while I wrote the piece, it turned into a series of my thoughts on sharing your dreams, and why you shouldn’t. I could’ve deleted out the first half, and rework the entire piece to be called Why You Should Shut Up About Your Dreams (an aggressive title I know). However, I chose not to. This could be due to a variety of different reasons, but I think it’s centered around how I’ve been writing for the past 5 years at university.
For some context, and explanation, my Bachelor’s degree is comprised of two parts: a Computer Science Specialist and Mathematics Major. For those that aren’t familiar with the idiosyncrasies of the University of Toronto’s scheme for naming programs, every Bachelor degree is comprised of 20 credits. A Minor is 4 credits, a Major is 8 and a Specialist is 12. For each program some of these credits are required to be certain courses, and others have different constraints. For example, the following is literally what I had to do to achieve a Computer Science Specialist.
For those eagle eyes observers (or anyone who took the time to actually read through the above image), you’ll notice that it is possible to complete this degree with only CSC and MAT courses. Therefore it was possible for me to get a degree without writing a single essay. This was not my reality.
I have taken a first year philosophy course, business ethics, computer & society (privacy ethics), and a science fiction course. These all required me to write prose on exams and hand in essays throughout the year. Through my years at UofT, I have perfected the One-Draft-Wonder. I sit down and write until I reach the word limit or page count or whatever metric the assignment includes. Then I submit. I’m aware that I could improve my grade with editing, I just don’t want to. All because of the Law of Diminishing Returns.
For every extra hour I spend tweaking an essay, my grade increases by a smaller and smaller amount. Therefore I aim to hit the point where another hour of work is not worth the grade boost and then stop. I’m also taking opportunity cost into account. Every hour I spend editing an essay, I’m spending an hour not studying an interesting math concept, or debugging a program. Math and CS have the tendency to be cumulative, as future concepts are built on the foundation of past concepts. If you don’t understand foundation, you are screwed going forward. Additionally, I find a joy in Math and CS that I don’t have when writing an essay for the sole purpose of getting marks.
This has led to a style of writing that is my stream of consciousness. As words and ideas come into my head, they go down onto the page. This explains why some of my articles seem to start in one place, and end in another. Of course I do edit these articles, but honestly not that much. I try to have a cohesive narrative, but for this February Challenge I have a time constraint and that leads me to prematurely publish articles.
I know I should edit more. Perhaps I will in the future. Until then, I hope you enjoy following my stream of consciousness.