How was your Sunday? Productive? Or another day with only good intentions?
If you don’t have much to show for the day, would you say that anxiety did you in?
You know the signs of anxiety. You know when you’re getting high-jacked by a fear of one kind or another commonly associated with writing. For me, the sign is a heavy-duty fluttering in my chest—like a ton of butterflies just flew into my body. Ever feel that?
Fortunately, when I’m having physical signs of anxiety when I’m trying to write, I usually know how to deal with them. Yes, my first inclination is to eat. I don’t suggest you go that route. But if I can kick the food lizard in the teeth, I know that what will help is to breathe deeply or roll my head first to one shoulder and then to the other.
But if you’re like me, even if you have great awareness when a case of nerves is about to derail your writing, you may not pick up on specific behaviors that could be your undoing.
Sometimes your brain can get lost in wild-goose chases on Google or in connecting and reconnecting on Facebook.
It’s those things that we do almost unconsciously that can do us in.
You think you’ve locked up, tied down, turned off all those distractions that you know you’ve made for yourself in the past. You’re not doing your crosswords, you’ve hidden your knitting, you’ve stopped watching Netflix, and you avoid turning on the TV to watch the cable news shows.
But then someone hands you a book and says, “Do you want to read this book? It’s really bad—great trash. It’s helped me wind down at night.”
A 600-page, easy book. Unfortunately, once you start the book, it doesn’t leave your mind. What you started with the intention of reading a couple of chapters at night has become a full-blown distraction. One part of your mind says, “Reading this book doesn’t matter and what happens to these characters doesn’t really matter.” But another part of your brain is spinning, “Oh, I have to find out what happens to these characters,” and you keep reading late into the night.
The next day you find yourself Googling the characters.
There’s a part of your brain that wants to soothe you and protect you from fear and anxiety. Finding out what happens to those characters feels so much better than writing your dissertation.
Does any of this sound familiar? What are you putting between yourself and your diss?
It’s a constant struggle, isn’t it?
Until next time,
P.S. Dissertation boot camp can help you replace those insidious behaviors with a robust writing habit. One participant said that she was really surprised at how much it had helped her.
Nancy Whichard, Ph.D., PCC
Your International Dissertation and Academic Career Coach