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The Clockwork Muse A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations and Books by Eviatar Zerubavel

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


The Clockwork Muse A Practical Guide to Writing Theses, Dissertations and Books by Eviatar Zerubavel

This text offers a plan to help those who have blanched at the prospect of finishing a long piece of writing. Eviatar Zerubavel describes how to set up a writing schedule and regular work habits that should take most of the anxiety and procrastination out of long-term writing, and even make it enjoyable. Zerubavel argues that the dreaded writer's block often terms out to be simply a need for a better grasp of the temporaral organization of work. This book rethinks the writing process in terms of time and organization. It offers writers a simple yet comprehensive framework that considers such cariables as when to write, for how long, and how often, while keeping a sense of momentum throughout the entire project. It shows how to set priorities, balance ideals against constraints, and find the ideal time to write.


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 Times Higher Education Supplement 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 Providence Sunday Journal

About the Author

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

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Book Info

Publication date

4th March 1999


Eviatar Zerubavel

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Harvard University Press


128 pages


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