Today is a Snow Day where I live in the Northern Virginia suburbs of Washington, DC.
Usually, no matter what day of the week, this area is busy with people moving purposefully. Today, not so much.
When my dissertation coaching clients tell me that they have trouble writing because they have such limited amounts of open time, I wonder if it would help to evoke the feeling of a Snow Day when we have just an hour to write.
What is it about a Snow Day that makes writing easier?
For me, the snow in the air not only slows everyday life outside on the street, but it also slows my monkey brain. I don’t expect as much from my writing. And most importantly, I’m much less resistant to start writing.
On a day like today, when I start writing, I don’t try to write full sentences; this writing is more in keeping with the falling snow: light-weight, uncomplicated, swirling every which way.
After several fragments of ideas, I usually start to notice a pattern or a direction. If it looks promising, I keep going with that thought.
Robert Boice in Professors as Writers calls this kind of writing Spontaneous Writing. It’s similar to Peter Elbow’s free writing, which is writing whatever comes into your head for 10 minutes.
Boice calls Spontaneous Writing a momentum-inducing strategy. Since we almost always need to start writing before we can produce momentum, writing with no expectations is a way to end-run anxiety and leave behind those internal critics that nag at us unceasingly.
So here we are, at the end of a Spontaneous Writing— a great way to change your mood, focus, stay in the moment, and induce momentum.
Hope you’re having a good Writing Day.
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation Coach and Academic Career Coach