Have you heard the sarcastic references to Obama’s having written two books? Of course, it’s politics to make a negative out of what would ordinarily be a good thing, but I’m wondering if the people making the jabs believe that large numbers of voters denigrate writers and writing. I don’t know what large numbers of voters think, but we don’t have long to wait.
As for me, I know that writing is hard work and that a person can learn a great deal about his or her own character as well as his or her ideas by writing.
As a writer, Obama modeled a strategy to all would-be writers. He was photographed writing his acceptance speech in a yellow legal pad in a hotel room.
Where do you go when you absolutely have to write – whether it’s the acceptance speech to be a presidential nominee or to move through a hard patch of your dissertation?
Do you tolerate distractions?
If you really want to get some writing done, it’s worth the effort to get away from the distractions of home or office— away from the distracting comfort of friends and family and refrigerator.
Where do you go? The local coffee shop? The library? Both are good choices, but if you take your computer along, you’re probably taking a major distraction right along with you. Carrying access to email with you may be setting yourself up for a less than productive session.
Here’s an idea — leave all electronic devices behind and just take a notebook and a pen. Give yourself the opportunity to write what you know with no possibility of skipping out to check on email.
Why stare at a screen?
Legal pads are perfect if you’re trying to produce a quantity of text in one sitting. If you want to have movable draft, buy a notebook. Writing in a notebook is almost a lost art, and it can be fun. Invest in a new notebook in a color you especially like. Put a sticker or two on the front, just the way you did in junior high. Make a date with yourself and re-discover how much pleasure you can have in writing what you know, with no books to quote from, no articles to check and check again, and no tempting email at your fingertips.
You will remove the pressure of the blank screen staring back at you, and you will give yourself the opportunity to ease into what can be a productive writing session.
What about you? What have you found to be a reliable way to resist distractions and to produce a quantity of text?
I’d love to hear from you.
Here’s to producing text,
Your Dissertation and Academic Career Coach
P.S. The new issue of my e-newsletter Smart Tips will feature an article on procrastination. Sign up at my website — www.nancywhichard.com.