Thursday, June 14, 2007

On Wasting Time

Dr. Crazy has a post up about wanting the summer fun to start. If you're an academic, it never can because--surprise!--there's always another book to read, manuscript to work on, and so forth.

Exactly right. When I emerged from the cocoon of feeling too sick to work earlier this week, I thought, "all right, now I'll be productive." I have deadline-driven writing to do, but my brain is still in lazy sickness mode: it's hard to sit at the desk, let alone to work or to make my brain think about what it ought to be thinking about. What I apparently can do, very well, is to sit in a trance and think about the work I'm not getting done.

About the best I can manage now is what I call "peri-writing." It's not really writing, or even pre-writing, but it's the work that surrounds writing. This involves huge amounts of time (in between reading a manuscript sent to me for review) spent looking up things I ought to read, making notes of things I should look at, and so forth. The manuscript review is part of this, because I can then say to myself, "hey, this person isn't as lazy as you are, and here's a manuscript to prove it. Get moving!"

5 comments:

PZ said...

Yes. I'm finally out of this stage as of today and we turned grades in a month ago. Before coming out of it, it isn't worth trying to force it...

The only thing I've found to work is a great vacation right after graduation. Light out in mid may and return refreshed in June. When I do this, it works. When it doesn't work out to do this, I end up with a form of lost time ... peri-writing with flashes of guilt, etc. Ah well~

Sisyphus said...

"Peri-writing," eh? Interesting idea.

My dissertating friend wrote 15 pages of her chapter in a couple days (graduation deadlines looming) and then was absolutely crushed at coming up against the "peri-writing" of collecting up quotes and refs. for the new section and working up her outline. There's something very unsatisfying (and surprising) about peri-writing and the way you don't _feel_ like you've accomplished anything even though you worked a lot on it, since pages aren't being produced.

For me, I'm swamped with grading. I'd love to bust out some peri-writing this week.

undine said...

"Peri-writing with flashes of guilt"--that's it exactly, pz. As sisyphus says, it doesn't feel like writing since pages aren't being produced.

Steve Muhlberger said...

Peri-writing is the enemy of writing. Write first, to find out if you even need to do that peri-writing

undine said...

That's true. The issue isn't that there's a choice between peri-writing and writing but between peri-writing and being unable to engage with the material at all.