1.2 Getting started

The purpose of getting started was to think about HOW to organise the work. This included:

  • Organising information
  • Planning the work
  • How to do the writing

Organising information/research

I’ll organise my research and thinking in the following way:

  • A box for physical paper files, notebook, books
  • Paperpile for referencing digital content. References classified using a logical folder structure within the application
  • Learning log information – organised in a structure that reflects the coursework and published on WordPress
  • Images and other digital assets – organised in a logical file structure on my computer hard drive

A rolling plan

The most effective way to manage work is “make it visible” (Sutherland, Jeff (2014) . I track all of my OCA exercises and assignments using PostIt notes organised in a weekly timeline on a prominent wall in my studio. PostIt notes are excellent because the activities move frequently as priorities change and the true size of tasks become known.

The picture below is my current plan. Yellow notes are Advanced practice exercises and orange notes are Visual research. At the moment the Visual research activity only goes to Assignment 1, because that’s as far as my thinking has reached. I know that I’ll have to add further Visual research tasks beyond Week 6 and this will mean everything else will get reshuffled as more orange PostIt notes are added.

Fig 1 – My current work plan as of 14/03/21 (2021)

At a high level I’m aiming to complete both Advanced practice and Visual Research by the end of this calendar year (2021).

Identify your learning style and writing habits

How do you kick-start the process of writing?

In this critical review my research and practice are tightly coupled together. The answers to my research question give direction to my practice, in this case the shape and form of the pandemic diary. So the writing is part of my overall process.

The way to kick-start the work is to complete Assignment 1 Project proposal so that I can move on to developing my approach to qualitative research. I feel there is an urgency to this. The research relates to the experience of artists and illustrators during the pandemic, and with lockdown set to ease over the next couple of months it would seem that now is the best time to be asking these questions. People will still be living the pandemic experience and starting to think about post pandemic life.

Do you have any strategies for writer’s block?

If this happens I will take the advice of other writers. I’m guessing that for a 3,500 word critical review where the structure and content will be pretty clear, writer’s block shouldn’t become an issue.

When you’re writing an essay, what is your method and/or where do you start first?

Once the question/problem I’m addressing is clearly understood, my starting point is divergent research (although in reality this has already have started). This involves reading from as many sources as possible, using the OCA Library (with support from the Librarian), internet searching and book reviews.

I keep a handwritten notebook of notes, ideas and quotations as well as logging all digital sources in Paperpile.

Once I’ve collected enough material I’ll write a high-level framework for the essay. This will identify the need for additional research.

I often start writing at the beginning because this reframes the arguement or question that I’m making. I quite quickly move to those areas that I feel most comfortable with because these are ‘quick wins’ that help shape the essay.

I try and write the whole essay without any editing or too much concern for flow just to get information down and to have a body of work to edit into shape. For the last two critical reviews I did far too much writing and had to aggressively edit the material down, losing large sections in the process.

Start getting visual ideas down

At this point in my research process, the question I needed to understand was the link between the area of research and my practice.

Defining this clearly was really important. It frames the relationship between my two parallel sets of coursework: Advanced practice and Visual research, and sets the direction of my practice research.

I used the rhizome mapping technique introduced during Visual exploration > 2.4 Word associations, where two topics are introduced into the same mind map so that connections can be made and explored. I allowed my thinking to be free and fluid in order to capture as many ideas and connections as possible.

Fig 2 – Divergent thinking using a rhizome map (2021)

This was a really interesting process that took place across a day. I walked away from the map and came back with new/different ideas. The content is very divergent and I was happy to capture whatever I came up with.

The more I think about it, the more interesting and relevant I think the research will be BUT it feels like it is very much ‘of the moment’, so I’ll refocus efforts to progress this rapidly.

Creative process diagram

This diagram is probably wrong because it’s based on very early thinking that will change as my ideas develop.

I’ve divided the process into three stages:

  1. Discover – Define the area of research, create a Research plan, design and prepare the research materials
  2. Execute – In two cycles. The first is carrying out qualitative research in order to learn lessons. The second is creating design prototypes based on learning from the first cycle and then testing these with users/readers/viewers (user testing) to refine, iterate and improve the design.
  3. Learn – Compile the results and write up the critical review
Fig 3 – My creative process diagram for this piece of research (2021)



Scrum: How to do twice as much in half the time | Jeff Sutherland | TEDxAix (2014) At: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s4thQcgLCqk (Accessed 14/03/2021).

List of illustrations

Figure 1 – Hadfield, Hugh (2021) My current work plan as of 14/03/21 [Photograph] In possession of: the author

Figure 2 – Hadfield, Hugh (2021) Divergent thinking using a rhizome map [Pen and ink drawing] In possession of: the author

Figure 3 – Hadfield, Hugh (2021) My creative process diagram for this piece of research [Omnigraffle diagram] In possession of: the author

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