Tuesday, June 20, 2006

On Writing and Not Writing

After seeing Boice's Professors as Writers touted so much in the academic blogosphere, I bought a copy and am trying to work through the exercises despite an innate and probably unfounded distrust of self-help books. I say "unfounded" because this is the first one I've ever read.

As mentioned in other posts, it's not that I don't write and publish a fair amount--I do--but that I'd like the process to be less filled with the general agony of procrastination. (Yes, that's like wishing for world peace, but I can dream, can't I?) That was the reasoning behind taking on more contract writing than usual this summer: if I can keep limber, so to speak, by writing those pieces, which should be easy, I can keep the momentum going for the more scholarly stuff. Since starting is always the hardest part, I'm hoping that this constant writing will help.

Boice counsels patience and promises results, which is comforting. I'm only on chapter 3, so I'm hoping that he soon tackles the two large elephants in the room when it comes to writing:

1. Mushbrain.

2. Fatigue.

These two tend to go together. "Mushbrain" has you staring at a sentence you just wrote, one that took about half an hour of writing and rewriting, and realizing that you can't tell whether it's good or so obvious that you wouldn't wish it on a 101 student. Fatigue can cause mushbrain, but it can also be counterproductive in other ways: falling asleep sitting bolt upright with fingers on the keys isn't such a good strategy, either.

The old New Yorker joke is that on the Internet, no one knows you're a dog. (That was back in the days when Internet had a capital I and wasn't used ironically in a plural form.) After reading all the accounts of productivity on various blogs, I'd add that on the internets, no one is ever tired.

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