Wednesday, June 03, 2009

process (of avoidance)

Once again, I am in the midst of a summer with entirely too much to do in terms of scholarship. I gotta write, write, write. However, in spite (or maybe because) of having way too many projects on the go, very little actual writing has taken place so far.

Until today, that is. Lunch is still in the oven, and I have already busted out a pretty good draft of an introduction to a paper I wasn't even considering writing yet will eventually be both very important to my branding as an academic not to mention a pretty cool and sexy vita line. I'm actually pretty confident about my argument (it's notable, important, and doesn't seem to have been made academic sweet spot) and my ability to get it done. And as optimism isn't a regular feature of my writing, I'm doing my best to enjoy the sensation.

However, as nice as it is to be producing again, I have been noting the things that come along with the drafting process:

  • My choice of beverage seems to take on massive levels of importance. Moreover, the art of getting a refill becomes a major event, much like I imagined the planning of the invasion of Normandy to be.
  • Cleaning also becomes important. While I'm making more tea, I might as well do a load of dishes as the water boils. And then clean the countertop. And then the cabinet doors. And then reorganize my kitchen.
  • I tend to get into major projects unrelated to writing. Yesterday, for instance, I steam cleaned the carpets instead of starting the draft.
  • I am very much a fan of the "pile stuff around your chair" method of organizing my research...which, incidentally, makes all those trips for more beverage all the more taxing and precarious.
  • For reasons I cannot really fathom, Tetris has become vital to my writing process. I must play a game before I start, whenever I get stuck, and after finishing each paragraph. And when I play poorly, I write poorly.
  • I am a night person, but for some reason, I am always more productive in the morning, when I am half asleep, unkempt, and drooling.
  • Just as I Twitter more often when I grade, I also do more tweets while writing.
  • Every paper I tend to write takes on a life of its own. I'm either exploring whole new areas of knowledge in which I really don't have all that much experience, or I'm trying to do vast, overarching, game-changing scholarship. In other words, it's never easy.
  • When I'm not currently involved in a writing project, there's never anything on television worth watching. When I do write, I get hooked into complex, intricate shows. Do I really need three hours of The West Wing a day when I'm trying to do a paper? Even the Television Gods are against me.
  • The older I get and the longer I write, the more I gravitate towards incorporating stream of consciousness blasts into my process...which totally goes against my normally super-anal procedures.

It is, of course, always interesting to learn more about myself. I also find many wonderful, unique insights into the writing process. However, most of them are simply bad habits, so I really can't share them with my class. Besides, how many students nowadays need to be told ways to avoid the writing process?

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