Jump to content

Academic Writer's Block


Recommended Posts

I've got the first deadline I've had in 3 and a half years. Frustratingly, I've fallen back into my old habit of reading and reading and ignoring the writing until the very last minute. In this case, I'm pulling an all-nighter in the probably mistaken assumption that my supervisors would prefer to receive something half hearted than nothing at all.

The problem is:

I haven't read enough

The structure is not clear in my head yet

I'm lacking the grounding in the necessary critical theory

I don't know where it's going

I haven't written in years

Everything I write is below par

The actual problem is:

I procrastinated endlessly in the absurd hope that it would delay this day coming, and I just need to pull my finger out of my arse and get typing (somewhere other than an internet message board).

So, my question would be, what tactics do people employ to start writing? I need some practial advice.

(P.S. I know there is a forum called 'writers block' to which you need a password. However, the grammatical errors in the 'topic description' caused me to venture forth of my own accord. Seriously though, from the brief description, it felt like this belonged here.)

"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is common advice, but it was one of the few things that worked for me: Get up early (ideally before the sun rises), fix yourself some coffee, unplug your modem, and write for two hours. Then, later in the day -- maybe during your lunch break or after dinner -- spend twenty or thirty minutes reading and editing what you've written.

I'm sooo not a morning person, but I found that writing before my day really began allowed me to go at it with a clear head. Also, you don't spend the entire day dreading writing and/or feeling guilty for being unproductive.

Link to post
Share on other sites

This is common advice, but it was one of the few things that worked for me: Get up early (ideally before the sun rises), fix yourself some coffee, unplug your modem, and write for two hours. Then, later in the day -- maybe during your lunch break or after dinner -- spend twenty or thirty minutes reading and editing what you've written.

I think unplugging the modem is a must for me. I'm such a fidget, that I can't sit still for 5 minutes and often just 'wander into' the internet instead of popping into the kitchen and looking in the fridge for the 10th time that day.

Not sure about the getting up before daylight thing, but writing in the morning would be a new approach that may just work. Would also mean that I could actually concentrate when reading later in the day because it would no longer feel like a delay tactic.

"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

Link to post
Share on other sites

Gigi,

Two things work for me:

-Anne Lamott (bless her heart) says the most important thing is to get the SFD done first. We want to skip the Sh**** First Draft and go right to the great final draft, but it takes the pressure off if I know I'm just throwing things on the screen with wanton disregard for perfection. SFD's are way easier to write than perfect final drafts, and perfect final drafts cannot be written without them.

-I sometimes have to find a new environment. As a creature of habit, my usual workspace sometimes seems filled with miscellaneous distractions; under deadline pressure I sometimes sit in a new space (spare room, coffee shop, etc) - and sometimes with paper and pen rather than a laptop. I think it helps because there is nothing else to do besides write.

I feel your pain, btw. Hope it goes well.

"Could we ever know each other in the slightest without the arts?"

« Nous connaîtrions-nous seulement un peu nous-mêmes, sans les arts? »

Quoted on Canada's $20 bill; from Gabrielle Roy's novel La montagne secrète. The English translation, The Hidden Mountain, is by Harry L. Binsse.

Link to post
Share on other sites

0645h and have just emailed off my almost 2 day overdue bit of writing which was really haphazard.

Definitely going to avoid doing this again. If not for my own sanity, then because I'll be wasting the time of my supervisors, one of whom has agreed to take me on board despite being on sabbatical!

Thanks for the suggestions guys. Particularly liking the concept of the SFD. May have to raise it in supervision come Wed. Keep em coming.

"There is, it would seem, in the dimensional scale of the world a kind of delicate meeting place between imagination and knowledge, a point, arrived at by diminishing large things and enlarging small ones, that is intrinsically artistic" - Vladimir Nabokov

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...