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The Clockwork Muse: A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations, and Books

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For anyone who has blanched at the uphill prospect of finishing a thesis, dissertation, or book, this piece holds out something more practical than hope: a plan.
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Overview

For anyone who has blanched at the uphill prospect of finishing a thesis, dissertation, or book, this piece holds out something more practical than hope: a plan.
Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Zerubavel (sociology, Rutgers), the author of seven books, shares his strategies on getting writing done, no matter how busy or how blocked the writer is. The answer is to make a writing schedule and then follow it, staying slightly flexible, writing outlines and drafts, and writing to deadlines. Written in a light, breezy style, this small book offers little new information. Large libraries may want a paper copy, but a better choice for dissertation writers is Joan Bolker's Writing Your Dissertation in Fifteen Minutes a Day (LJ 8/98).--Lisa J. Cihlar, Monroe P.L., WI
Times Higher Education Supplement

Eviatar Zerubavel takes issue with books on research and writing that imply that checklists and synopses of resources and literary texts are all the equipment a writer requires to start a research project. In The Clockwork Muse, he assumes that writer's block is natural, pervasive, and tends to prevail regardless of an individual's ability, ideas, and resources. He argues, therefore, that any writer's first task is to insure himself against this paralyzing condition by commanding the 'procedural', not the 'material', aspects of producing a manuscript. The basis of his philosophy is 'temporal organization': self-disciplined planning—'methodicalness and routinisation'—result in manuscripts written well and on time.
— Gregory LeStage

Providence Sunday Journal

Zerubavel understands that the writing mind is inherently perfectionist and that writing is a strangely and dangerously self-engrossing process. His advice ranges from simple time-management schemes—so simple yet so hard to observe—to important tips about how to exploit the computer. The computer, however comfy for those wild writings beloved by the Camerons among us, is essentially an editing tool: a tool of self-criticism. Zerubavel emphasizes that the writing life is actually a life of self-editing, of revision. That is why it is hard; that is why it is exciting. Not just for academics, The Clockwork Muse belongs on every real writer's desk.
— Tom D'Evelyn

Times Higher Education Supplement - Gregory Lestage
Eviatar Zerubavel takes issue with books on research and writing that imply that checklists and synopses of resources and literary texts are all the equipment a writer requires to start a research project. In The Clockwork Muse, he assumes that writer's block is natural, pervasive, and tends to prevail regardless of an individual's ability, ideas, and resources. He argues, therefore, that any writer's first task is to insure himself against this paralyzing condition by commanding the 'procedural', not the 'material', aspects of producing a manuscript. The basis of his philosophy is 'temporal organization': self-disciplined planning--'methodicalness and routinisation'--result in manuscripts written well and on time.
Providence Sunday Journal - Tom D'evelyn
Zerubavel understands that the writing mind is inherently perfectionist and that writing is a strangely and dangerously self-engrossing process. His advice ranges from simple time-management schemes--so simple yet so hard to observe--to important tips about how to exploit the computer. The computer, however comfy for those wild writings beloved by the Camerons among us, is essentially an editing tool: a tool of self-criticism. Zerubavel emphasizes that the writing life is actually a life of self-editing, of revision. That is why it is hard; that is why it is exciting. Not just for academics, The Clockwork Muse belongs on every real writer's desk.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674135857
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1999
  • Pages: 128
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Eviatar Zerubavel is Professor of Sociology and director of the graduate program at Rutgers University.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
1 The Clockwork Muse 1
2 The Writing Schedule 14
3 A Mountain with Stairs 36
4 The Project Timetable 56
5 The Mechanics of Progress 81
Notes 101
Index 109
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