Over the last week I’ve been thinking about my writing more than I have since finishing my PhD, and I’ve been thinking about it in ways that are more than just ‘I must finish that paper’. The spark was Pat Goodson’s book and I decided after beginning it that I needed to invest more time in my writing. The first couple of days I scheduled writing sessions for the end of the day, knowing that I wouldn’t find time to write during the school day and that I would have to do all those home related things that are looming when you walk in the door from work.
I was aware that this probably wasn’t ideal, particularly as I don’t really see myself as a night owl – I’m probably more productive in the morning than at night. The last few nights it has been after 8pm by the time I sit down to write. Normally at about 8pm I’m beginning to think of what I will read when I pull on my pj’s and crawl under the doona (told you I wasn’t a night owl). Instead the last few nights, I’ve sat down on the couch and started to write. One of the things that has been most striking to me is how good this feels.
The first couple of nights I’ve felt tired and grumpy and sure that I won’t be able to find a word, let alone form a sentence. Despite my misgivings though I’ve been keen to not deviate from the calendar schedule I set myself so I pick up the laptop and begin with a 5 minute writing exercise. Soon I am lost to everything around me, focused on the screen and thinking about what I will write. I write for a while and then I fill out my writing log (I snuck ahead in Pat’s book and thought I’d give the log a go to see how it worked for me). Like Pavlov’s dog I’m responding to the little buzz I get when I see on my log that I’ve actually managed to achieve something (I wonder what Dan Pink would think of that?) and most nights I find myself continuing to write, and 15 minutes stretches out to 30 minutes and 30 minutes stretches out to an hour.
I’ve been surprised by this and maybe it’s because I’m starting to think about my writing in different ways. When I decided to start on my writing journey and decided to try and invest some time in nurturing my writing I emailed Pat Goodson to share my first entry with her. Getting an email from Pat and seeing her comment on my blog has been a great way to start – it reminds me that as academics we are entering a community of writers. Sometimes the competitive nature of academic life can lead us to forget that we share common experiences and common goals. With Pat’s feedback and with emails from my good friend Maryann I begin to feel part of a community who are investing in writing, taking time to find our authorial voice and to weave our stories through our research.
I’ve been talking about writing more with my friends over the last couple of days and some of them have been reading my blog and sending me links to the work of other people. This has been great and has reminded me that there are lots of sources for me to read about writing and that these will help fuel my love of writing and will help my writing develop. I’ve loaded a couple of books onto my iPad, including Helen Sword’s ‘Stylish Academic Writing’, which was a recommendation from Pat. I’ve ordered a couple of other books and am picturing them, clad in brown cardboard, nestled in planes, winding their way towards me from the U.S. I figure that if I want to grow my writing, I need to give it some food.
This week has made me hungry for more.