Quite honestly, I think my experience reading Ultralearning by Scott Young would have gone much, much better for me if I hadn't done the equivalent of an ultralearning project before. But I've done at least two. I just didn't do them in a very organized way. So some of what I was reading in Ultralearning wasn't that novel to me. Also, I already have bad habits in place.
But here's how I'm applying the steps in this chapter to my present project.
Our Case Study: Step 1. The metalearning research, researching how history is studied. By the end of December I'd collected a lot of material. I stopped doing this kind of research at that point so I could get started using it at the beginning of the year.
Our Case Study: Step 2. Schedule your time. How much time you'll give to the project and when you'll do it. My plan at the end of December was to use my metalearning research in January and February. By then I wanted my character defined in terms of what he does with history and the part what he does with his knowledge in the plot to be determined. I planned to give some of my work time to this every week.
I originally thought of limiting this step to January, but I have a week-long retreat and a number of family things coming up as well as other work I want/need to do. So I'm not going to torture myself with an unrealistic deadline.
Our Case Study: Step 3. Execute the plan. Here's how some things went last month:
- One of Young's suggestions is to find a course syllabus for the subject you're studying. I had found and chosen a class syllabus for a 2013 UConn class called The Historian's Craft, which was about the methods and tools of the historical profession. The course is described as being about "how history is written." I ordered a copy of one of the three course books, A Student's Guide to History by Jules R. Benjamin. I thought it was too pricie and ordered a used copy. And I waited until the beginning of January, the beginning of my study time, to place the order. So I lost two weeks of my study time waiting for that to arrive. Lesson learned.
- While I was waiting, I listened to a great podcast, So You Wanna Be A Historian--Historical Thought, Methods, Historiography, and the Historians Toolbox at The Ask Historians Podcast. I went through a podcast thing about four years ago, but am not a fan now because I find content quality varies a lot and they require concentration. I can't get much out of listening to a podcast while I'm doing something else. But who has time to just sit and listen to one? This particular podcast was over an hour, but I listened to it while on retreat last month. I took copious notes. I took names of historians to look up. It was great. I still have more paths I can pursue as a result of listening to this podcast.
- So, I get back home, my book has arrived, and I go to work with the syllabus. Here's what I found to be the case with working with a course syllabus when you don't have access to the class instruction that goes along with it: it's of limited use. Other readings were assigned for this class, some of which were only available through sites that could only be accessed by students or must have been handouts. The writing assignments were on the syllabus, but they didn't make any sense without having been in the classes. The book has been good, but I haven't gotten as much from The Historian's Craft syllabus as I'd hoped.
- I am doing a better job of organizing my notes than I have with other projects, but I really do have to keep reminding myself not to just dump everything into one file.
- I've read some other material on my subject. And on and on.
- I have had some thoughts regarding my character and my plot as a result of my reading and that was the whole point. But I need to do some immersion on this research and writing project. My efforts were spread over too many goals last month. Just doing this a few hours a week may not have been the best plan. I've got three and a half weeks left in my scheduled time.
Our Case Study: Step 4. Review Results Still to come