Challenge Blog Three: Changing Gears

It was nearing 11pm. I was tired, still had an exam to study for and a paper to write, but I wanted to finish my annotated bibliography. It was a struggle. To make matters more complicated, I started questioning the usefulness of some of my sources. One in particular didn’t really seem like a modal source (as I had labeled it) and it wasn’t relevant to my project at all, except that it was an ethnographic study (which I’m only loosely using as a technique), so I took a step back and spent some time brainstorming different ways I could present my final project.

Without realizing it at the time, I was using a variation of Tharp’s 20-question technique to come up with a better idea. Eventually I had something. This past summer I went on a few road trips during which I listened to a variety of podcasts, one of which was S-town. Once I had this seedling, I visited the homepage and felt a dozen light bulbs going off in my head. This was it! This is how I would convey my ideas to others. This small discovery led to a slew of new research leads. One after the other, the majority of my compiled sources were cut from the list and replaced by more relevant and useful ones until I had a list that I actually wanted to use as references. What I thought would take me an hour ended up taking me three, but it was worth it.

For the first time since the start of the semester, I felt like I was in a groove instead of a rut. I was excited to reach out to those I wanted to interview and felt motivated to make progress. Unfortunately this groove came just a few days before winter break, by which point I was brain dead. Now, having returned back to school, I feel like I’ve lost that pre-break motivation that was so inspiring, but hopefully the first week sluggishness will wear off and I can jump back into my project with the enthusiasm I experienced briefly before.

From past experience—whether it be essay writing or a semester long project—I have found that sometimes it’s up to me if I want to shed the sluggishness. It’s too easy to fall into a pattern of laziness when the end is near. However, this is the time I really need to dig in. What has worked well for me in the past is setting aside a day (usually on weekends when I don’t have class to worry about) dedicated solely to whatever it is I want to get done. Having a whole day that I know ahead of time is the time I have to get things done, helps to put me in the right frame of mind.


2 thoughts to “Challenge Blog Three: Changing Gears”

  1. Hi Brenna!

    Every time I return to my annotated bibliography, I run into the same sort of internal question… are these actually model references anymore?

    In design school, we are often reminded of what influences us, our work, and our visions and creations. Our brains are always consciously and unconsciously referencing materials from our past and the current! In other words, our libraries are larger every minute than they were the minute before.

    What I’ve started to do in my annotated bibliography is use hierarchy indicators to show what model references are the most accurate to the current typology and condition of the project. While the others are “old news”, I think that they are still worth enough to keep around in order to show trajectory and context. Some of those “hierarchy indicators” show up as bolded or italicized lettering, or labeling.. such as “old source model” and “source model for visual legibility”, sort of how we “tag” our posts here on the blog!

    Hoping this insight might be found useful to you. Best regards with your progress!!


  2. Hey Breanna!

    I can definitely relate to the falling off the plane of productivity after the break. It’s like I’m in a daze. In class, I wasn’t able to finish the twenty questions in class because I was way too tired. However, this weekend, I finally got around to doing them, and it really was insightful. It helped me recognize some fears I had and gave me a better sense of what needs to be done now and down the line. The schedule that I made for myself was a bit ambitious. However, in hindsight, I think that the new schedule that the questions allowed me to form lets me have better use of my time. I know what to focus on now.

    Really at the end of the day, it really is up to us to keep going. The beauty of the capstone project is that we get to work on something that we really like. The downside of it is the pressure of making it really good. That is why I tend to get caught up in leaving my ideas in the ether instead of putting them down on paper because I know that they most likely won’t sound as good as they did in my head. But in order to get them anywhere, they really need to get on paper first. It took me a while to even start writing. It’s great that you recognize the relationship between experiences with past projects and this one!

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