An old friend and lots and lots of writing

Last Saturday I met up with a wonderful friend who I am ashamed to say I had not seen for well over a year (possibly two years). I had really been looking forward to it. But due to a brain malfunction on my part, I had mixed up the date and arrived over an hour late, as I only discovered the mix-up after she had sent me a message that she had arrived at the agreed location and was waiting for me! :O

Now, let me tell you, I have an absolute abhorrence of being late and keeping people waiting. I literally have nightmares on a regular basis in which I cannot make it somewhere on time for the life of me… In those nightmares it for some inexplicable reason is impossible for me to leave the house, whilst the clock just keeps ticking on mercilessly as a lovely reminder that I am running later and later. So yes, this was a dream come true… I literally had a minor panic attack.

Thankfully, being the lovely person she is, she didn’t hold it against me at all and even tried to calm me down a bit. When I finally arrived, and after I had apologized profusely, we had a really good time chatting and doing some much needed catching up. It’s just so amazing how with some friends it feels like you have hardly been apart even though you have not seen each other for a long time.

In order to ensure that it doesn’t take another year (or two) before we see each other again, we immediately picked another date to meet up… Needless to say I immediately activated all sorts of alarms in my google calendar to ensure that I will not get the date wrong again.

The rest of my 1,5 week has been pretty uneventful. I am still at the same weight: 67.4 kg. I am not quite sure what the scales are going to say tomorrow though, as we are going out to dinner tonight.

snoppy20typingThe month of November, however, is going to be incredibly busy for me. Why, you may ask? Because it is ACWRIMO…. This probably means as little to you as it initially did to me. It stands for Academic Writing Month. It is basically a month designed to help academics create a writing habit and to encourage them to write as much as they can.

Articles on the creation of writing habits state that an academic should ideally aim to write around 1 or 2 hours each day, so they can maintain a steady writing flow. Which is great if you are a full time PhD or are a teacher at University. But if you are a part-time PhD student who works 24 hours (and has 3 hours of travelling time to get to work) and fatigue issues this quickly becomes an incredibly unrealistic goal to aim for. So, last year, I tried to create a schedule that fit my needs, and ended up scheduling blocks of about 3-4 hours of writing on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays, and a two hour writing block on Saturday. I noticed that after about 4 hours of writing I simply couldn’t focus anymore, so I limited myself to 4 hour blocks in order to prevent stress and frustration. For the past year I have been trying to stick to this schedule with varied success. There have been times that I have been so tired that I simply couldn’t write, or days on which I simply wanted to meet up with a friend haha. 😉 I would like to have somewhat of a social life too you know.

However, as my sleep psychologist has forbidden me to do any PhD related work on Saturdays *insert grudging growl here*, I have recently had to readjust that schedule. This means that I am now down to about 12 hours of writing a week.. if I am lucky. Yes, I realize that this means I am actually working 36 hours a week… Ok actually more like 42-43 hours as I do usually spend another 6-7 hours a week reading research related material whilst I commute to and from work… But I can still not shake the idea that I am not working hard enough on my dissertation. And I would really like to address this issue.

736857_origSo this year’s acwrimo is all about finding a new schedule which works for me. I might try to write a little  on Monday and Thursday after work and see how that goes. And don’t worry: I don’t mean I am actually going to try to write another 1000 words. That would be seriously unrealistic. No I would be quite happy to just write as little as a 100 words, as it still enables me to keep some kind of writing flow going. Or alternatively, I might try to lengthen my writing blocks by one hour. Possibly spending the first 3-4 hours working on one of my chapters and the remaining 1-2 hours on an article

I have tried doing my writing on my way to work for a few days, which worked wonderfully well for my writing… but really affected my performance at work. I noticed that I completely caved in at work at around 3, so this really is not an option.

So yes, this year’s acrwimo is going to be trial and error. We shall see how it goes.

If you guys have any writing tips I would be super grateful if you could share them with me! :D.


6 thoughts on “An old friend and lots and lots of writing

  1. How similar we can be 😏

    There’s me beating myself up about not being able to do as much as I want and there’s you (clearly a gifted and conscientious academic) overly stressing about what appears to be an already fairly punishing self imposed schedule.

    Having previously experienced academic burnout myself (I couldn’t face reading anything even remotely academic for years after my degree) I know from experience that just like my walking sometimes needs me to just relax a bit that you too are being rather hard on yourself.

    It takes someone very self critical to understand someone very similar, albeit for different reasons.

    I’m going to reflect your own very wise advice back at you and remind you to treat yourself kindly and give yourself a break. Four hours straight writing is only worthwhile if you’re ‘feeling’ it. In my experience if you’re not you’ll probably need to re-do all or part of it anyway.

    You’re right to put your primary focus on the sleep too. Without that everything else will fall to bits. Look after the body and the mind will fall in line.

    Big hug. You’re doing just fine Mar 😉



    • You are spot on dear… I guess the both of us really are our worst critics. I often tell myself to cut myself some slack, but then I feel guilty afterwards. Lol this reminds me of that quote from Alice in Wonderland: “I give myself very good advice, but I very seldom follow it”. I really need to be less demanding when it comes to myself… And I will definitely try. Thanks dear! *Hugs*

      Liked by 1 person

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