Tuesday, November 20, 2012

On Productivity and Inspiration

It's 2:45pm and I'm still wearing my pajamas and dressing gown.  I slept until 11 this morning, and have been working on and off since then; I'll continue until about 3:45, when I'll leave for the library and jazzercise.  It's a very nice break, after a couple of weeks of being full-press on, with a gazillion meetings and a weekend-long exhausting (although quite enjoyable and productive) conference. 

I've read a couple of things recently on productivity and the pressure to be productive.  I definitely take Planned Obsolescence's point that busy-ness and stress are points of pride among many, as well as No Matter. Fail Better's and The Thesis Whisperer's discussions of the usefulness of the #acwrimo month  Like them, I've been less interested in the competitive word count aspect of #acwrimo than in the commitment to writing--as well as the feeling of community that comes with such campaigns.  Such commitment and community are what I most enjoyed from being part of the 14 Day Writing Challenge earlier this month; I'm hoping to continue this with the new writing group I've joined.  Our first meeting was yesterday, and I have high hopes.

What I've gained most from these visible academic writing campaigns was the beginnings of the discipline of daily writing--I've started getting up at 9 during the week and spending the first two hours of the day working.  And although part of this work is answering emails and scheduling things and other non-writing work, the quiet of the morning has also got me writing every day.  While I realize that 9 is not early morning for most people, given that I don't teach until 2:30 in the afternoon this semester, it's grown quite easy for me to adapt to later and later days, not going to sleep until 2 or 3am.  And though I used to think of the work I did at night as productive, I've been a bit surprised to realize that when I get up and work in the morning, I'm much quicker and more efficient in the morning.  I get much more bang for my working buck in the morning, much to my inner 20 year old's chagrin.

So many people I know--my students especially--are so worn out and burnt out right now.  In academia, it's really November that's the cruelest month.  With exams behind me, I'm feeling a bit less stressed than those around me, and I'm trying to use this energy to propel my writing.  To check in for #acwrimo--I finished and presented a conference paper, and I wrote and submitted the first draft of my prospectus.  Next up is an article which I would like to make a 12/1 deadline with, and I've had a conference proposal accepted for the Appalachian Studies conference in March, which I've started making notes for as ideas occur to me.  Word count?  Who knows.  My biggest accomplishment is starting the discipline of writing every day and starting to figure out how I work best--so that when I start dissertating in earnest, I'll already have some traction.

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