On the one hand, I think writing should be somewhere on the neutral-to-fun spectrum: part of the academic job, so you just do it; or part of a project that you’re really excited about it, so you love to do it.

On the other hand, I recognize both that for many people, at least some of the time, writing is hard.  I like to write, and I find my research absorbing, but there are days when the prospect of writing makes me feel bad in various ways.  “It’s hard” is a way to avoid the real issues.

This is my theory about why writing is hard.  To do it, you have to sit down and be quiet.  You stop rushing around juggling tasks, stop talking to (and listening to) students, fellow committee members, partners, children, friends, and you try to turn off the task list in your head that says “grant proposal, answer e-mail, laundry, what am I going to wear tomorrow, what’s for dinner tonight, a cookie would be good right now, how many papers are left to grade, overdue book, gosh this room is a mess.”  Usually your head is so full of that kind of thing that there’s no room for anything you might be trying not to think about.

Once you get quiet, anything lurking at the back of your mind will come out.

It may be sadness, disappointment, anger, worry, even excitement about a good thing; but it will come out and try to get your attention.

And you will try to get it to go away and shut up because you have to concentrate on the grant proposal, essay, review, rough draft, whatever you’re doing.

The Thing in the Back of Your Mind does not like being ignored or told to shut up.  Well, really, who does?  So it gets louder, and it calls up all its friends and supporters, like the Mean Censor and Self Doubt, so they can all gang up on you.

At this point, any sensible person who doesn’t like being on the receiving end of nasty comments is, of course, going to want to get that cookie, start the laundry, or surf the internet, to get all the Things to shut up.

Now, if you learned your craft as a writer at some calm and happy time in your life, or even if you didn’t but writing was a calm and pleasant haven from the other stuff, then you probably have good habits in place that mean you either don’t get the Chorus of Things, or you can deal with them effectively already.  So you can be a happy writer who does not feel that writing is hard.

But many of us learned the craft in high school, college, and grad school, times of turmoil and trouble like heartbreak, moving across the country, and dealing with troublesome roommates.  You may thus actively associate writing with emotional uproar.  Even if your life is calm and pleasant now, getting quiet so you can write may start up the Anvil Chorus just because you’re used to that.

So step one is to figure out whether there is a real, current Thing you don’t like to think about, or if this is habit.  The most concrete current Things are in some ways easiest to deal with.  You tell them yes, this is a serious problem, and you are going to call the insurance company as soon as you have put in this half hour writing.  Assure the Thing that it will get your full attention in its proper turn.  This politeness will usually get it to ease up for 30 minutes or so.

With old habitual stuff, you can use rational behavior-modification techniques on the Things.  Ask them why they want to keep you from writing.  When they say, “So Professor Nasty from freshman year won’t be mean again!” you say, “But I have already published more than Professor Nasty,” or “Well, we survived Professor Nasty and Professor Awesome thinks we’re great!”  The Things may grumble a bit, but a few minutes of attention can convince them that you are too cool and rational to fall for their silly tricks.

I want to say more about writing and managing emotion (not controlling it: if you can control it, you are a Vulcan and I envy you, but we live in different emotional worlds; managing is all I aspire to), but this post is long enough already so I’ll save the rest for another time.

Roll call:

ComradePhysioProf: my grant-writing is coming down to the motherfucken wire!!
Contingent Cassandra: Squeeze in 2-3 short morning sessions with the P conference paper/article/outline-in-progress. Accomplish at least one additional ancillary task.
DEH: do 3 more research tasks and cobble together a nasty dirty rough draft so my RL group can tell me what to do with it.
EAM: set up the study in the new house.
FeMOMhist: 500 more words.
thefrogprincess: rewrite (reshuffle) the article according to the new structure and figure out where needs more work (more evidence, more secondary lit, etc).
GEW: Order that book review. Read 10 pages of methods chapter.
Ink: Finish two curriculum projects (out of four currently underway). Write ONE more fiction page.
JaneB: a) Smooth out the rest of the lumps into a rough draft. b) type all my notes into the outline of the Unexpected Paper that started last week.
JLiedl: Outline the article and write 500 words on it.
kiwimedievalist: Finish the editing.
Luo Lin: write 1/2 hour on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and make a realistic plan for spring break.
Matilda: planning for my presentation in April; ok, I am making an easier goal for next week: writing at least something everyday.
Nancy Warren: polish conference paper and keep working on chapter version.
profgrrrl: finish copyediting and tidying MS, send to publisher; while I travel I really need to work on an encyclopedia entry, a book proposal, and the chapter that has become an article.
Rented Life: Finish chapter 1 of book. I’d be happy to start chapter 2 but with midterm grading we’ll see. Print off and review the scenes I have so far because there’s certainly some continuity issues. And I need to just physically see them like that to start laying out chapters. Expand what I wrote last week.
Sapience: 1) write application letter for a summer job; 2) research and write at least one of the expansions for chapter 5; and 3) finish the conference paper revisions and power point presentation.

54 thoughts on “Writing group, week 5: Managing emotion

  1. Last week’s goal: finish conference paper and keep working on chapter.

    Accomplished: conference paper is done-ish. I need to cut it down a bit, since the session has 4 rather than 3 presenters. But that’s all that remains to do, and I know what I can cut. I did keep working a bit on the chapter, but I also had to write a massive stack of administrative things this week, so not as much work on the chapter as I would have liked. I probably got a few decent chapter pages out of the week’s work.

    Commentary: I am quite happy with how the conference paper turned out, especially since the work is in a very new area for me. I’m excited to present it week after next. The chapter is still a mess, but I sort of feel it is supposed to be a mess at this stage of its life. That’s just how I work.

    Next goal: I’d like to request an “excused absence” for next week. This Sunday, I’m flying half way around the world to do work connected to the administrative portion of my job. I will be spending most of the week in a fairly exotic place to which I’ve never traveled, and in the very few hours I have that are not already scheduled in meetings, I am pretty sure I’m going to be exploring this new and fascinating place rather than working on my book! I might get some reading done on the two 15 hour flights that are involved in getting there and getting back, but that’s probably about it.

    1. It sounds as if you’ve made heroic accomplishments this week on some important fronts. I hope you allow yourself to relax, explore and recharge a bit on your trip as that’s possible!

  2. Last Week’s Goal: 1) write application letter for a summer job; 2) research and write at least one of the expansions for chapter 5; and 3) finish the conference paper revisions and power point presentation.

    Accomplished: The letter got most of 3; Chapter expansion got put off, but I did manage to get other miscellaneous work on the dissertation done.

    Analysis: The application was easy. The conference paper would be done except that something isn’t quite sitting right with me about it. I’m coming to believe that the problem might be that I was cutting this down from a longer piece, and the elements I had to cut to meet the time length just feel more absent to me than they will to my audience. I’m going to ask one of my writing buddies to sit through a run-through for me and tell me what she thinks. If she doesn’t see the problem with it, I’ll ignore my gut and call it done. The chapter did not get done because ILL screwed the most important of my research requests–they sent me the first volume instead of the sixth of the complete works of the author I’m trying to work on, and that is necessary for almost all of the expansions I wanted to try and do. But, I did manage to get a new intro to my Intro written, and I’m *really* pleased with it. So I think I got the same amount of stuff written for the diss as I had hoped.

    Next Week’s Goals: 1) Finalize any conference paper revisions, if necessary; 2) re-try to get the major expansion of chapter 5 researched and written.

    1. Sapience, you have my sympathies on book mix-ups. Something similar happened to me last year. Holding one volume of the series while the loan request clearly shows a different volume number? Wildly frustrating!

  3. Dame Eleanor, you’re so right about the negative voices coming out at the quiet times. It’s tough to beat them down because I often end up beating myself up for wasting time on worries, frets or fears. Double whammy? Oh yeah!

    1) Last week’s goal – outline the article and write 500 words.

    2) What I did? Outline’s done and I wrote about 400 new words as well as dropped in 1200 old words from a conference paper that the outlining process made me realize were exactly what was required. I feel ahead of the game.

    3) Analysis: the outline has really helped me understand what i was doing for this particular and brief article. I’ve worked on the topic so many times that it’s all too much in my mind. Creating an outline forced me to think critically about which elements belong and which elements aren’t germane.

    Sadly, the heady sense of progress is about to dissipate. Our research office finally posted the grant application forms. The most frustrating and time-consuming part of the project will be formatting my CV to the requirements. I wish I was kidding, but I’m setting aside an entire day to accomplish this because just figuring out what the format entails was driving me batty. Ironically, I keep copies of my CV in three different formats to correspond with three different requirements. Somehow, I’ve never used THIS particular format and it’s quite different from all the others.

    4) Next week’s goal? Complete a draft of the grant application: CV, budget and actual research project information. Try not to get depressed over how much this feels like a time-sink!

  4. 1. goal 500 more words

    2. although I’ve no memory of working, apparently I did on Monday. Oh yes its all coming back to me. I used that time when I’d reach a finishing point in what I was writing, and didn’t have enough time to start something “big” before bus drop off of 1st child. 690 words.

    3. Obviously my success lies in exploiting those bits of time that appear too short to get anything done, but when set to small goals, accumulate quite a bit (4220 words four week total)! I must admit I’m going to attempt to use this technique with exercise as well to see how many minutes I can carve out in a day.

    4. not messing with success 500 more words

  5. 1. Last week’s goal:
    write 1/2 hour on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and make a realistic plan for spring break.

    2. Achieved:
    I worked for 45 minutes on Monday and 45 minutes on Wednesday, reorganizing my draft in accordance with my new outline. 45 minutes on Friday writing and revising the newly-organized and very messy draft.

    I’ve made a rough plan for the week that attempts to balance research and writing, grading and preparation, relaxation and fun, and chores. I keep thinking of things I need / want to do in all those categories.

    3. Comments/analysis of what worked or what went wrong.

    I spent a lot of time trying to squash the bugs buzzing around saying that it was no victory to meet such a minimal goal, and other comments of that ilk.

    On Monday and Wednesday, I succeeded in a bit of “productive procrastination” in that I wrote in lieu of grading papers and preparing for class. In theory, I have enough time this semester on T and Th to keep up with teaching so that MWF really can be research days, but this week I had a big pile of Teaching Stuff to Get Done ASAP. Usually, my procrastination is purely non-productive.

    Maybe getting back to my routine for running and yoga helped.

    Maybe a new medication helped me focus on work rather than my usual intense focus on crosswords or kenken (very good for keeping Things at Back of Mind in check).

    I very much want to take a real break during Spring Break, so making plans and goals for next week is essential and difficult.

    4. Goal for the next week:

    Work one half hour each weekday morning.

    Continue the writing and revising of the messy draft.

    Write and submit conference abstract that has deadline next week.

    Decide where to send a paper that got rejected last fall. Send it.

    1. I find Sudoku very effective at distracting the Things, but sadly it gets in the way of actually writing… but yay for overcoming them!

  6. Last week’s goal: finish editing collection of articles.

    Progress: One more article to do – out 7.

    Comments: It’s soooo much easier editing other people’s work than producing my own. Perhaps that’s where I should go with my life, but that’s beside the point. Dame Eleanor’s comments on emotions slowing us down, and interfering with writing, are right on the button. Part of my problem is getting settled, and then making excuses about other things that need to get done first. Getting up early in the day, and getting work done then has also proved much more productive than trying to work in the evening. (But I slept plenty late today – I think I really need 10 hours a night, not 8!)

    This week: Finish this article, because it’s due on the 25th. So, if I finish it this week, I’ll have time to have a friend or two look at it, and hopefully won’t be sending off total rubbish.

      1. I know I need a lot of sleep – the trick to making the most out of my day seems to be getting as much of that sleep before midnight as possible, so I can wake up about 7 and get lots done!

        I’ve got a really productive looking day tomorrow, so I’m hoping things will scoot along, now!

  7. Another great post, Dame Eleanor. I’d add that sometimes the cause and effect are reversed: the emotion (the Thing) may come up precisely because it’s easier to indulge in that than it is to put words on a page. Your solution sounds workable to me.

  8. Last week’s goal: planning for my presentation in April: writing at least something everyday

    Accomplished: my plan is still only a vague, ambiguous, however, I have read several articles important to my argument. Writing-at-least-something -hopefuly-everyday scheme seems to work reasonably well. I wrote 4 days this week, thought most of them are only memos.

    Analysis: This week’s modest success has two reasons: I have no classes in this month, meetings were shorter than I had been afraid of. That means this week was a lucky one, and I am happy that I was at least able to start my presentation in April, re-considering what I had researched for several years.

    Goals for next week: (re-)reading articles, starting to construct my argument; writing something everyday.

  9. I disagree that writing is hard because it takes you away from other shitte or because you have to quiet your mind.

    I think writing is hard because writing is HARD! It takes serious mental effort to generate decent motherfucken sentences, and then to put them together into decent motherfucken paragraphs, and coherent motherfucken longer pieces.

    When I am doing my most productive writing, my mind is far from quiet: it is racing back and forth between numerous different documents and ideas and published work and piles of data and data analysis and images and graphs and other pieces of writing I have already done. And from the ferment of all of that chaos, the sentences and paragraphs bubble up very discontinuously like big farty bubbles of gas emitting from volcanic lava.

    (Needless to say, there are many different ways of writing, so I am certainly not contending that my experience of it is necessarily universal.)

    1. I do agree that my most effective writing isn’t done in a quiet, calm mental state but in a rather fizzy, excited, bouncing around one. More like bubbles of gas from the bottom of a murky pool in a bog that just might ignite into will o’ the wisps than volcanic gases though! I really rather enjoy the mind rushing round all the bits of research stage – I’m also working in a science discipline, so maybe this is something disciplinary? – but the challenge for me is getting to that stage at all.

      The challenge for me, the way I understand this post, is that the fizzy stage only really works if all the bits are positive, research focused bits. If some of the things you’re meeting are say memories of failing to get grants or critical voices or worries about all the other things you have to do that day, then the lava sets solid or the pool freezes over and the sentences won’t come at all.

    2. See, different things are hard for different people. I can always write. Generating decent sentences and paragraphs is easy for me. Organizing is hard, and working out arguments is hard, but the sentences and paragraphs flow like water. But I can drown in a sea of words if I don’t get the argument worked out, painfully, before I let the sentences flow.

    3. It depends on the writing I’m doing. My creative writing I usually have about 6 other things going on while I’m working on it and I’m ok with that. But if there’s too much noise not of my own choice (external or internal)–especially competing thoughts about work, job hunt, etc, it’s impossible for me to get any writing done.

  10. Goal: a) Smooth out the rest of the lumps into a rough draft. b) type all my notes into the outline of the Unexpected Paper that started last week.

    Progress: once again my goals are not achieved, but part a has seen quite a bit of progress – I have two sections to go, but the structure has changed again into something that feels comfortably fluent, and I’ve worked out all the figures I need to make. Unexpected Paper makes me grumpy whenever I look at it – it’s like Thing Bait! I did send some emails about it, and got good responses, so I shall keep at it for now.

    Comments: one more week, then the team teaching and weekly grading marathons are over, and I have a few quietish weeks in which I hope to get a bit more on top of things. I can never work out if I use the teaching surges as excuses not to write, or if they are perfectly valid reasons (yes, this debate is one of the Things). What’s been good this week is that I have managed to spend 30 minutes most days this week doing something to the paper, and even if I only rework a paragraph at a time, I’m making progress. Knowing I’ve pledged to check in has been a helpful prompt to actually use those little gaps, or to deliberately take 30 minutes even when I think I have none to spare, and do something rather than nothing, so I’m actually feeling like it’s Things 1, JaneB 1 this week which is rather nice.

    Plan: a) Smooth out the rest of the lumps into a rough draft. b) type all my notes into the outline of the Unexpected Paper. Keep using those little gaps!

  11. Great post on writing, DEH. I think I am more like you—the words come easily, but making them work together in an argument, make sense to the reader, interest the reader, that is the hard part for me. I wax all too lyrical, so writing for me is cutting, pruning away all my pretty flowers, all my perfect phrases.
    That said, I do have the inner critic, the perfectionist, the little girl who never got good enough grades to please my father. It is a constant struggle to believe that I am writing something that anyone would care about.

    1. Goal for last week: Set up the study.

    2. Accomplished: Nope. Oh well. Due to a major glitch in the move, the desk chair and part of the drafting board was mistakenly left in Florida, along with one of our cars—a long story that bears telling at some point.

    3. What I learned: Always have a plan B and C and, with moving, D in mind. We had to leave more stuff in Florida, and the wrong stuff was left behind; my mother-in-law went into the hospital when we were on the road, and we had to go take care of one of our sons two days after we got here. Holy mackerel! What I really learned is that it all somehow works out, with a bit of wear and tear on the body and psyche, but the things that are important work out somehow.

    4. Next week’s goal: take a deep, long, breath before contacting my dissertation director and readers. I’ve been hiding for months, I blush to admit, and now that I am moved and have a job that supports my writing the dissertation, I have no more excuses.

    1. I thought we had our last move planned out really well, and then we didn’t account for some items in the basement. Plans B, C and D are a good idea to have. Yay for a job that supports writing your diss!

  12. Goal: Finish chapter 1 of book. I’d be happy to start chapter 2 but with midterm grading we’ll see. Print off and review the scenes I have so far because there’s certainly some continuity issues. And I need to just physically see them like that to start laying out chapters. Expand what I wrote last week.

    Accomplished: I read chapter 1. Last night I even got through chapter 2! I printed off all my stuff for my book (approx 41 pages!) and began putting it in a basic order subject to change of course as plot continues to develop.) I didn’t really re-read them, as I had planned, to check for continuity issues, etc. I did zero writing.

    Analysis: I had grand plans for my special Monday night–I would be home alone and did everything I could to not have to do work at home at night, so I could just focus on the book. Then work exploded with problems starting Sunday and carrying on through Monday and Tuesday, until I eventually said “this is unproductive, we need to stop e-mailing.” I spent an extra couple hours at work both days that I really didn’t want to and was extremely burnt out after. Hell, after midterms, I’m still burnt out

    Work got the better of me emotionally and that really held me up the majority of my week, for accomplishing anything beyond midterm grading and dealing with difficult colleagues. I need to continue to work on setting boundaries for my work life/home life, as well as setting boundaries at work when my superiors refuse to manage their departments. When I finally did say “stop attacking me, stop e-mailing me I have nothing more to say”, life got a little easier because I stopped getting the abusive e-mails. I have this week off to hopefully de-stress, forget about some people and I will check my work e-mail every day while on break. I also hope to get much reading done–I need to move past the “dull” part of my book that’s setting everything up for the main part of the book.

    Writing and emotions–that was really interesting to think about. Non-work wise, I generally only write for myself when I’m upset. But then there’s also times where I’m so upset that I don’t write and I really should just to clear my head. I never had much confidence as an academic writer, and not much belief in myself as a fiction writer either. Thankfully husband’s been a great cheerleader for my non-academic writing and won’t let me give up when I say that I just can’t do it. Because fiction writing, for me, is so different than the kind of writing I normally do, I have a hard time focusing on it if my emotions are too out of whack, or if the voices (usually work related) decided to take over. And I’m certainly not terribly good at being quiet and with myself. Anyway, I don’t have any conclusive thoughts here, just starting to think about it is all.

    New Goal: Read lots! The book is divided into three parts, so I’d be happy to finish part one this week. Actually re-read my own stuff and either expand or add new section accordingly–let’s say 5 pages of either editing or new writing. That seems reasonable for all the other stuff I want to do over break. If I get more done, it’s a wonderful bonus. I also hope to prep the remainder of my 2 “newer” courses so that they are all set once break is over and they won’t eat much much of my time.

    1. I had one of those weird, emotional work things, too. It happened on th same afternoon that my iPad failed and I was worried about being able to access my grade files. It was a terrible afternoon.

      It sounds like you made a smart move to pull out that vicious e-mail cycle. Email can be just awful.

      I hope your break helps you cleanse your mental palate!

  13. Goal for last week: Squeeze in 2-3 short morning sessions with the P conference paper/article/outline-in-progress. Accomplish at least one additional ancillary task.

    Accomplished: none of the above, and not as much prep/grading as I really needed to, either.

    Analysis: It was the week before spring break, and had some additional activities to boot. I wouldn’t really want to have missed any of them, but there’s no question that there’s too much on my schedule this semester. I need to be more careful in planning for the future. For the moment, I’m trying to prioritize what I can/must/will realistically get done during spring break. With a conference in two weeks, writing that paper needs to be a priority, but so does getting close enough to caught up on teaching/prep work that that doesn’t distract me from the conference (or nearer-to-the-conference prep), or fall apart completely. The goal for next week is set with that in mind: while I’d like to spend long periods of time on the conference paper over break, at this point it probably makes more sense to get caught up (and rest a bit), knowing that will allow me to devote one or two full days to the conference paper just before the conference.

    So, goal for next week: 3-4 short-medium morning sessions with the P conference paper/article/outline-in-progress. Progress on ancillary tasks as possible. On the non-writing front: get as caught up as possible on grading and prep, enough household work to make things feel a bit saner, sleep, take two full days (probably M and F) off (pleasure reading, sleep, cooking, exercise, and/or light housework if and only if that feels like it would be the most relaxing/satisfying option).

    1. P.S. Lots of good material for thought in the prompt, but I’m rushing to get things done today so I can take some really solid time off tomorrow. So I guess I’ll just say “how true!”

  14. 1. Goal for last week: Order book review. Read 10 pages of methods chapter.

    2. Accomplished: Nope. Nada. It was a crazy week at work, and I wasn’t able to do my “mindful inflexibility” hours. Things started falling apart a bit. I burned dinner one night. My iPad crashed. The latter was very stressful since I keep my grades on the iPad. I had backed them up, but I was stressed until I knew I could actually see the grades and print them out. And like, rented life, I had some gnarly work events that less to stress. So. Teh week was a wash. But I got a LOT of grading finished, and I’m hoping the week will be okay, despite the pending eight hours of meetings related to the college crisis.

    3. Writing is hard for me. The sentences are hard. The organizing is hard. The working out of arguments is VERY hard. I think these are the things that intimidate me more than the emotions that might leak into those moments of solitude. Right now, those moments are so precious that I really don’t fear them. I cherish them. If I procrastinate on the work, it’s usually because I’m intimidated by the writing problems I’m facing. This is the way it is for me now. If I had more time to write, the dynamics might be very different.

    4. Goal for this week: Order the friggin book review! My good friend, Amstr, has already located the citations for me; I just need to get the reviews off of a database or order them! Read two chapters of philosophical foundations, and 10 pages of methods chapter.

    1. Sorry to hear your week got nasty. Ugh. Congrats on all the grading though!

      Here’s too a better week this week.

  15. 4. Goals for this week: 1) complete a very rough draft of dissertation introduction, 2) outline the theory content of each chapter.

    [Goal for the semester: complete rough draft of full dissertation. I’m in Ren. Lit.] I’ve got parts of each chapter completed, two as book articles that need to be revised to fit into the context of the whole, and one that has been giving me fits because I hadn’t nailed down my plan for the whole dissertation, especially regarding theory and methodology. This past week, I gave up on that third chapter in order to focus on the big picture. I ended up with a revised prospectus that’s a good road map for where I’m headed, and about 1500 words of an introduction (I think the final intro will be 20-30 pages).

    Like DEH, I find words and sentences easy, once I’ve nailed down the argument and organization. Stepping back to get an idea of the whole turned out to be an even better idea than I thought it might be. I’m actually eager to keep writing–a great feeling after being stuck for a couple weeks.

    I’m flying back east in late April to meet with my advisor, and my goal has been to have the three literature-based chapters complete. But I’m revising that goal to be to give my advisor the best idea possible about the dissertation as a whole. I’ll be pushing hard through the next 3 weeks to get my drafts done enough to turn in.

    1. Welcome, Amstr! Amstr is another “late add,” who obediently went off to try to form a separate group after missing my deadline for signing up for this one. But when no one joined that one, I felt bad. So now we’re going to help Amstr get those chapters written.

    2. Welcome, Amstr! It’s good to see you back. (I don’t know if I ever commented on your stuff during the last writing group, but I did read your comments and posts).

  16. Last week’s goal: do 3 more research tasks and cobble together a nasty dirty rough draft so my RL group can tell me what to do with it.

    Accomplished: still working on the tasks.

    Analysis: checking that I have numbers correct is bad enough. In a few cases, I still can’t work out what a marginal comment says, and then I get all OCD on it, and it can take half an hour to realize what I’m doing and that I should just let it go. I keep thinking I should just work on the draft, but I fear writing up “bad” data and forgetting to fix it.

    Goal for this week: get a draft to the RL group pronto.

  17. Brilliant post!

    What I always used to do (before I got screwed up) … delegate time outside writing time to deal with Issues.

    That was when I had a well managed life and had never read self help or instructions … it was Edenic.

    It’s still a good idea for managing emotion in these situations.


    Conversation today with a colleague. Her perception: grad students have trouble finishing things, because they don’t see graduate school as a job or as job training but as “school” or an “exploration” or some such thing.

    I could comment on that or post on it but this comment is already long and I should be grading!!!

  18. Awesome post! I always deal with the Back Burner Thoughts by sitting down with a cup of tea and taking 15-20 minutes to do nothing but drink the tea, think about those thoughts, and wind my anxieties down before I get to work really writing. It helps me push most of my ongoing thoughts out of my head before getting down to work. (I also disconnect my internet so I’m not tempted to sneak peaks at email/Twitter/blogs/etc. 😉 )

  19. Aw, geez, I forgot to sign in. So sorry!

    I got 3/4 through curric projects and although I didn’t write any new pages, I did revise two old chapters again.

    So that was something. Onward.

  20. A late comment, and I’m not part of the writing group, but I wanted to say how incredibly helpful I find this post of yours, and I’m keeping it for future reference — thanks!

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