Final drafts

What is it about final drafts? Well, they’re not really drafts anymore, but the final version of a paper.

On one hand, I love the final draft, because it means I’m done. And I can move on to whatever’s next. On the other hand, I get really worried that the final draft really shouldn’t be the final draft. That there are still spelling or grammar mistakes. Or that a section may still be unclear. Or any number of other possibilities out there.

I find I get so worried that I missed something, that it becomes really hard to submit. I stare at it and stare at it. But, I also can’t bring myself to go over it again. Probably because at that point, i’ve been over it multiple times, my supervisor has been over it, and likely others have been over it as well. And I’m usually sick of looking at it anymore. And it’s unlikely that I’ll catch something in the umpteenth pass that I didn’t catch before.

I think this generally feeling of “what if I missed something” is common with grad school. Because you’re constantly writing various papers or other documents that will be used to judge you. Okay, not you, but you still feel the judgement as if it is about you. For example, after I finished my MSc, I had my dissertation printed and bound. But, besides glancing through it quickly (but not reading), I’ve never looked at it. I don’t want to, because I don’t want to know if there are any mistakes. I’d rather be oblivious.

I recently submitted a final paper for publication, where the site said over and over again that once it was submitted you couldn’t upload any changes (even if it was still before the submit date). It turns out that this wasn’t completely correct – as after you submit they send you instructions on what to do if you need to make changes. But, talk about adding another level of stress. On the other hand, I really haven’t thought about the paper at all since I’ve submitted.

In the end, I generally end up submitting about a day after I decide that I’m finished. I’ll fill out the form or write the email and then hover over the submit/send button for a few minutes before I make myself send it. And then, I just hope that people don’t feel the need to point out any errors – especially if they are minor ones (like the misspelled word or missing comma).

Do you find you experience this panic? Or is it just me? I never had this problem with submitting papers to be graded (as an undergrad or grad student). Does it ever go away?

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One thought on “Final drafts

  1. I used to have this sense of crippling nervousness whenever I submitted any paper for a grade or for review, but writing a blog has really helped me get over my insecurities. At first, I was very apprehensive when it came time to hit the publish button, especially when I deviate from “safe” blog entries and write about politics or current events. I wouldn’t say I don’t give it a second thought, but I don’t obsess over it quite as much as before.

    Since I sign my name to each of my blog entries, I claim ownership and submit my work to the raevnous den of lions we call the Internet. It has helped me build (somewhat) tougher skin and make me more comfortable with others reading my writing overall.

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