Now, this seems preferable to what I've done since getting this job, which is the whole guilt thing. But is it really a viable plan? Let's consider.
First, since getting this job, I've done the bulk of all of the research and writing that I've accomplished during the academic year. This at a teaching-intensive university that doesn't value research all that highly. This includes:
- 2 full-length articles.
- 2 short articles.
- co-editing a special issue of a mini-journal.
- My book proposal.
- Revising and polishing the book manuscript.
- Somewhere around 5 or 6 conference papers.
- Maybe 4 conference papers.
- Minimal work on the book (and most of this during a summer when I had a fellowship that motivated me).
That's the first piece of this puzzle. I am a person who is motivated by deadlines. I believe in deadlines, and I tend to respect them. I don't view my research as something that's just something I do for myself, something akin to going to the salon for beautification or watching a movie. Because I don't, I don't just wake up on a sunshiney day in the summer and say, "wow! I'd really like to write an article!"
Another piece of the puzzle is that I tend to accomplish most when I have a bunch of things going at a time. If I have something I feel like procrastinating about (prep for teaching, grading, etc.) I'm much more likely to be motivated to do research stuff because it feels like I'm playing hooky by focusing on that rather than doing the other stuff. Along with this, I feel like teaching really energizes my research - not so much the inverse. In some ways this is a chicken-egg sort of question, but I know for some people the research is ultimately what drives teaching, and whatever their current research project is heavily influences what they do or plan to do in the classroom. For me, research has tended to emerge from a tangent that happens in the classroom or an idea that pops into my head when I'm prepping something. When I've developed courses that come out of my research, I find that I'm doing something totally different with that material and it ultimately bears little relationship to (the usually quite developed) ideas that I'm exploring on the research side. This process strongly resembles the process that I used as a student, in which I would sit in class and the margins of my notes would tend to include tons of potential paper titles that would come to me in class (for I tend to begin with a title and to go from there). In other words, research ideas for me come out of conversation - they don't happen in isolation.
The final piece of the puzzle is that I know that the teaching stuff and the service stuff that makes up the bulk of my work during the academic year is going to get done no matter what else I'm doing, mainly because teaching and service, unlike research, have finite expectations and goals. This means that even if I give myself permission to put teaching and service on the back burner for a day or two that ultimately I KNOW I will return to those things because I can't NOT return. In a weird way this gives me space to do research during the academic year because it gives me a break from that stuff while also putting a finite limit on how much time I actually have for research, as opposed to the summer when there is no limit of time so one can procrastinate and procrastinate until the summer is lost.
Now, in proposing this idea, I'm not saying I'd not think all summer (because how can one stop oneself from thinking?) nor am I saying that I wouldn't do things like conference papers if I had a summer conference. And I'd still use the end of the summer to prep for classes and to do syllabi and assignments and that sort of thing, which I do now. So what I'm describing is not a true summer vacation, but rather being more realistic about what I actually motivate myself to do in the summertime. This seems possible to me, even though I have a strong impulse to call myself crazy for even considering the notion.