Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Shifting into Gear for Writing

So the plan for today is to work for at least three solid hours on the revise and resubmit. When I do writing projects, I've found that three hours is about the right amount to which to commit - not less, not more. This doesn't mean that I may not end up working for longer, but it isn't such a small chunk of time that I can get away with merely fiddling. I learned this during my dissertation, which was the only time I can really claim to have suffered an extended period of writer's block. Three hours leaves about 30 minutes to an hour for fiddling and hemming and hawing, and about 15 minutes to a half an hour for winding down, but it also leaves at least an hour and a half to two hours for solid headway-making work. I've never been successful with "I have to write 15 minutes a day," nor have I been successful with strategies where you "write first" for an hour every day. Those strategies don't leave me with the mental space for powering up and powering down, and without the powering up and powering down, I produce little of value.

I know that those things can work for some people, but for me, such strategies are a lot like teaching on the three-day-a-week, 50-minute schedule as opposed to teaching on the two-day-a-week or one-day-a-week schedules - because it takes me at least 15 minutes to power up and to power down, a 50-minute period means that I only get about 40% done of what I'd accomplish in the same amount of actual time on another schedule. So part of what I think helps with scholarly productivity for me is the fact that I know this, and that I don't fight it.

But so anyway, today I begin work in earnest on the revise and resubmit. I'm trying to forgive myself for the fact that I've not knocked this thing out sooner. I'm trying not to worry that I've left it too long. The point is that I should just get it done, and even if it turns out that I have left it too long, that's fine - I'll just send it out elsewhere. It's a solid and interesting piece of work. It will find a home.

And the sooner that I get it off of my plate, the sooner I can file away all of my notes, and the sooner I can move on from the project. Must keep my eye on that prize.

I suspect that it will be rough going for the first bit, and that I'll need to use the kitchen timer to keep me committed to working for the full three hours (I set the timer for one hour increments, allowing for breaks at each hour mark). The fact is, I really want this article to be done but I don't actually want to do the revisions. That is annoying. I'm much more excited about Silly Article, but I know that's because the r&r is old work as opposed to shiny new work on a thing that is Silly and Fun. But that's the thing, too: it's old - I need to get it out of my life.

Ok, I think I'm done giving myself this pep talk. I think that I'm warmed up. I'll read blogs for a bit longer, and commit to starting by 11 AM. Must make more coffee (I treated myself with starbucks first thing this morning), put on a writing outfit, and get myself organized. I can do this. I can work on this for three hours. Totally.

Edited to Add:

Wow. I just dragged out the draft of the article and apparently I already went through it and made a slew of notes. I have no recollection of doing this. At all. Maybe I have less work to do than I actually thought.

2:51 PM Ok, so I'm making my way through this thing. I think I need to cut a huge chunk out, and I do not want to cut that huge chunk out. I hate everything.

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