10 October 2007

Writing patterns

I've been working pretty hard these past few weeks on two writing projects. The first is a paper on reflective equilibrium and education that I hope to submit (in some form) to the Philosophy of Education society meeting. The second is on Dewey's aesthetics, film, and social class that is for the History of Education society meeting at the end of October. It's the later I've focused on exclusively this week, because I really need to send it to the session chair by Friday (two weeks before the conference). I've banged out about 10 footnoted pages; that was working from texts, with only the roughest of outlines going in.

I procrastinated all to hell on the Dewey piece, but it's helped me better understand my writing process. I write in spurts, with an almost exclusive dedication to writing during that period. I am sure everyone does to some extent, especially when faced with a deadline, but I feel it's different for me. I've been thinking about this Dewey paper for two months -- going over what I want to write in my head, looking at references to use, rereading portions of Dewey -- but it's only very recently I felt ready to write anything. Hence the procrastination and the spurt of productivity.

This wasn't a real problem when I was writing my dissertation. My advisor was fine with my disappearing for three weeks then surfacing with 20 pages. I also didn't have much else to concentrate on during that period, so I could NOT think about writing for awhile (and just ruminate over things in the back of my mind), and JUST think about writing when it came time to bang it out. With teaching, that's a lot harder. Now, even though I am in the writing grove, I have to worry about meeting students and preparing for class. I can't just write. Of course, I should be honest and clear here. Even when I am in my writing grove, it's not like I write eight hours per day. It's more like four. Pre-teaching, however, I'd spend that other time not really doing very much mentally taxing -- cooking, working out, debating the merits of Lost episodes, etc. I think that not writing time helped me write.

It's not like I find the act of writing harder now. I find clearing the mental and caldenderial space to write harder. Given that I must write for my profession, I either need to readjust my writing habits or work my other duties around those habits. I could, for example, try to get ahead on my teaching prep and not schedule appointments when it's a writing week. I am not sure that my writing schedule is that predictable, though. Maybe it needs to be

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