Words and Penguins.

On a productivity scale of poor, fair, good, and excellent, the past two mornings would fit squarely into the good category. I have managed to write another 1.5 pages. The chapter’s argument has come into better focus. I know exactly which spot I need to expand, and I know what “chunk” I need to write next. Also, I rediscovered this piece on the Thesis Whisper about how to turn out a large number of words/day and “not go bat shit crazy.” She argues that most writers (of all stripes) only have two hours/day of good, creative writing time. The rest of the day is best devoted to tasks such as edit-cleaning, reading and organizing. Based on my own experience with Big Book Project (and some other article projects as well), I am inclined to agree with her. I have genuinely tried to get in four solid hours of productive writing time very day, and no matter what I always fall short of that goal. On my best days I get three hours, and on my worst one. This piece reminded me to go a little easier on myself. I learned during Dissertation Project that the more I nagged myself for failing to meet the quotas I set for myself turned out to be quite counter-productive. The more I chastised myself, the less productive I actually became. Oh Catch-22, Catch-22…

There are two things I would like to become better at though. I’d like to do a better job of hard focusing. Some mornings I sit down and plow through my ten minute writing segments, with only short breaks at each half-hour mark to do things like brush my teeth and pack my bag for my trip to the archive. Other days I fail miserably at this, and take breaks between ten-minute segments to do idiotic things like check Facebook and send emails. This is bad, because I have noticed that I really do lose concentration threads are essential for working out the knotty problems in writing. Must improve. The other problem is that ever since April, I have a hard time buckling down first thing in the morning to writing work. To be fair, I was coping with some sad professional news: I had been a finalist (one of three) for a slick job at Famous Ivy League University in Major American Metropolis, but unfortunately did not get the job. It was a thrilling to make it that far in such a competitive search, and I got very positive feedback from the search committee. But the let down was HARD. Very bad for writerly motivation. It took me an hour on most mornings to collect my thoughts and gather the courage to sit down at the computer and return to Big Book Project. I’d like to get back to my regular routine of rising, breakfasting, and sitting down to work.

While I’ve been working on that, city life has improved. It is no longer nearly as hot. YES! And these hilarious, yet strange pink penguins and their polar bear companions have appeared all over central Moscow. They are part of an ice cream fest. What’s not to love?

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