self-discipline and other issues
I’m the worst blogger ever. I’m working on it. It’s funny but I think my inability to take out just a little time to write a few sentences here and there reflects my complete lack of self-discipline, which of course has a huge effect on my dissertation research.
See it’s not that I don’t generally like what I’m doing. I’ve just spent the last two hours reading and writing a book review. I really like writing. I always have. More importantly, I like the process of writing and rewriting. When I was an undergraduate, I had a TA who believed strongly that revision was “re-vision.” Editing required more than just sprucing up; it requires looking again and perhaps re-organizing or even re-thinking. I love all of that. I like less the work that takes you to writing but I don’t dislike it. I just cannot motivate myself to work steadily on anything. I’m mentally tired, not from the work itself but from my unresolved and serious issues stemming from childhood and a little bit of college, issues not helped at all by graduate school or the isolation of archival work and seriously exacerbated by the specific difficulties I’ve had in the first three years of my program. I’m working on these issues but they require a long haul of work and it’s nothing that’s going to be solved soon, or even in the next year or two. Meanwhile I have to get work done now despite the fact that my issues are starting to impinge on my ability to work. I’ve been decent at pushing everything to the side and forcing myself to work; I’ve had no choice in the past. There were classes to attend, papers with due dates, and last year, classes to teach. Without that structure, the stuff I struggle with daily has more time to bubble up and cause problems. I’m best when I’m too busy to think about what’s gone wrong and when I don’t have hours to obsess over my life. The problem with archival work is that even in a city like London, or maybe because it’s London, I spend most of my time by myself with my own thoughts. That’s dangerous, as this summer proved. In hindsight, it was absolutely the right decision to take time off but it hasn’t been the quick fix I hoped. I’m feeling much better about the work. I don’t dread being at the archives or even going to the archives. I’ve even been able to start figuring out the core questions of my redesigned project, something I was unable to do during the summer. So intellectually I’m back in the game but I’m not mentally there.
I created a work schedule a few weeks ago. Each week I’m supposed to do four days of archival research (followed by a little bit of writing), two days of writing/other projects, and Sunday is completely free from work. I’ve been good with the day off, and good on the two days of other projects. But last week I only did three days of archival and this week I only did two days of archival. The excuses aren’t really important. I just need to fix it. I need to wake up earlier, go to bed earlier, and get to work. I only have nine weeks left and they need to be pretty productive.
Filed under: dissertation, my life, research | 3 Comments