The hardest part, hands down, of being a scholar is the writing. The best part, hands down, of being a scholar is the writing. It’s as contradictory as it sounds. Writing is what we are expected to do as scholars – how we prove our mettle as young scholars seeking a job, a yardstick for measuring productivity for tenure, and proof to our spouses that we do indeed do work. But sometimes, it is so damn hard to do.
With potentially the largest project I’ll ever undertake as a scholar looming ahead of me – the dissertation – I find myself reflecting a lot on my work habits, most specifically my writing habits, and wondering how I will manage to finish the project. There’s a lot of advice out there for academics, though no two writers are alike. So that has me wondering – what exactly are my work habits, and how exactly can I make them work best for me over the next two years?
Thus, my resolution is: write almost every day. If I’m going to be completely honest with myself, I know that there are just some days where it’s impossible to carve out time to do it, or, more importantly, I haven’t had the time to think enough about my work to sit down and write anything that’s worth a darn. So instead, at the beginning of each week, I’ll look at what’s schedule in my handy Google calendar, and in open slots, I’ll schedule writing – and set up a reminder for it, too. I’ll work with anything in a thirty minute block or more. My rule is generally that if I have 15 minutes, then I’ll use that time to respond to emails/clean out my inbox/read that good article someone linked on Twitter, but 30 minutes or more = primo writing/research time.
With four meetings today, this is probably the only writing I’ll get done – but this post was important because there’s nothing like a good public announcement of your intentions to make you stick to them.
How do you carve out writing time? Do you make those ten or fifteen minute slots more productive for you?