Reeducating my writing habits.

I don’t know about you, but I would definitely pass out and die in a marathon. My writing habit is to, to borrow from the ever fabulous Mean Girls, “word vomit”. I incessantly type away for hours on end for a solid day, and end up ‘wasting’ the rest of the week away. By ‘waste’ I mean that the rest of the time is hardly productive because I knitpick over the smallest things and write and re-write and delete and de-delete and end up with something sad and mediocre like 200 words a day, and feel dejected so I resort to other distractions and let the day go by… whereas my frenzied one-day writing sprints can bring me 3-4k in under 24 hours (and quality 3-4ks at that).

Before you nag away, I *have* indeed been inculcated – I used this word in my kindy graduate speech as a six-year-old valedictorian so every time I use it now my brain goes awww – into the good practise of sustained continuous writing that is crucial in the 4-year marathon that is this PhD. But the spurt-inertia-spurt-inertia cycle is addictive and difficult to break away from.

In the spirit of instilling good discipline before summer kicks me in the face with full force and distracts me from productive writing, I’ve been trying to reeducate myself to marathon instead of sprint this week. How did it go? Well I’m in to day three and so far so good! A solid 3k over three days, and possibly another 1.5k I can churn out later this afternoon and evening if I get off the Internet immediately after this post.

As a reminder to the future me who will likely procrastinate and read old blogposts, dear Crystal, please do this because it works for you.

1) Outline the skeleton of your entire essay with headings and subheadings. Decide which chunks you will work on for the day. Looking at this 120k-word thesis as manageable few-hundred-word chunks is less daunting. Plus you get to celebrate little victories frequently when each chunk has been completed.

2) Indicate all KIV text or portions requiring further referencing etc in red text. And then move on. No looking back. No flipping through books and files in the mean time.

3) Writing is producing new original words. Editing doesn’t count. Don’t try to cheat!

4) Do a quick word count of each completed chunk as a mood uplifter and morale booster.

5) Plug in. You cannot seem to concentrate without music so have your audio entertainment with you. These afternoons you are blasting Hillsong’s Glorious Ruins album on replay, and transiting to the solid sounds of the Cranberries for night writing.

6) Contain your writing time and recreational time; do not let the two overlap or bleed into each other so you’ll be productive in one slot and not feel guilty over having a mid-day tea break in the other slot.

7) Have bottled water at your desk because you will feel sleepy and your body will try to convince you that you are hungry (again? immediately after lunch?!) when all you need is to be hydrated and refreshed.

8) Sleep. This week you are actually sleeping eight hours a day instead of staying up and writing like a very inspired maniac for 30 hours on end and then crashing for days And this sleep, it is gooooood.

Rinse and repeat.

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