Richardson and St. Pierre (2008) ask the question what role has writing played in your research? (OK sort of). They talk about how writing as inquiry suggests that the writing process is both an act of data collection and data analysis. The traditional lines established in interpretive/positivist qualitative inquiry are blurred. It has caused me to ask the question What role has writing played in my research?
First, writing the initial texts during the experience helped me process what was happening to me. It was an act of understanding oneself and an attempt to make sense of my experiences. Often I would sit to write a blog post, and as I wrote the words on the screen I developed a deeper understanding of the experience. The act of writing caused me to make connections between what had just happened to me, my previous life experiences, and theoretical knowledge from my studies. The act of finding words to explain what was happening, helped me better understand the experience. It was also often an act of healing. The writing process gave me an outlet to process the emotional and mental aspects of the experience. Where medications helped dull the pains of the physical insults to my body, writing helped to process the emotional and mental pains.
In the dissertation process, I am using the original writing as raw data for analysis, but I am also re-writing the key experiences. The re-writing involves a layer of filtering, but also a layer of re-presentation of the experience. This requires a re-living of the experience which is not easy, but is necessary as it helps me to better tell my story. Ziebland and Wyke (2012) talk about how learning to tell the illness story is a health literacy. And as such, the retelling of my story in this dissertation presents a further development of my health literacy.