And so, back to writing - this time, a draft chapter on only children’s personalities. It makes uses of different sources, it busts stereotypes, it’s interesting (in my opinion anyway) - but I think it may be a bit bloated.
The bloatedness is hard-won. I’ve said before that I can knock out a blog post or conference paper without too much difficulty, but I really drag my heels over board papers. Some days, a thousand words seems like a lot of output as I’m still working out how to say what, and about whom. I’m better than I was with my Master’s thesis, where I over-organised myself and ended up with so much time to do it in that I would do 1,000 words and call it a day. Even so, it takes me maybe a couple of hours to write a thousand words and therefore I should be able to write at three thousand words in a day, my concentration and enthusiasm levels drop off way before that. I usually manage around 1,800; my record is about 2,300.
In the last two weeks, I’ve basically written 8,000 words where I unpack what I mean by ‘self’ and ‘personality’, then go on to talk about introversion and extraversion in only children. I’ve sorted them into those who fitted the stereotype (i.e. shy with children but outgoing with adults), and then various other permutations. Of course, it’s not as simple as saying ‘this person was outgoing with everyone and therefore didn’t fit the stereotype’, I have to identify reasons why this might be - in other words, explanations for personalities extra to, or (in my view) more important than their lack of siblings. Even with those who fitted the stereotypes, I argue that they were the way they were for reasons such as losing a parent, or having a parent with a certain type of job, or that they changed over time, going against the idea that an only child was basically cursed for life. But in adding all these extra details, I’ve ended up with a whole load of mini case studies all stacked on top of one another. I think they are very interesting and illustrate my points that being an only child wasn’t necessarily the key determinant in how someone acted with adults and children, but they don’t half make for a lot of words, and I’m not sure if my board members will like it.
I actually planned this chapter to incorporate other, more minor aspects of personality only children were supposed to have, such as precocity, spoiltness, poor behaviour, imaginativeness, and non-conformity to their assigned gender, as well as their feelings about being only children. At this point, it looks as though I’m going to have two chapters - one just for extraversion and introversion, and the other for all the rest. Maybe I am too close to my subjects after all - in that I love some of their stories and want to get as many of the interesting/illustrative ones as possible into my thesis?