Writing Up: Pace Yourself
This is a very hectic month for me. My submission deadline is the 30th, so I have to polish my thesis into an acceptable state by then. I have been re-writing a chapter a week, and am finally on my last one! But because when it rains, it pours, I have had another deadline every week for the last few weeks. From conference abstracts to journal articles, to research seminars, everything seems to be happening at once.
I suspect the more disciplined among you would have no problem with this. "Two deadlines a week?" you'd sniff, waving your hand dismissively. "That's nothing!" And in theory, I love having a work plan set out, being able to move smoothly from one thing to another. But in practice, my body just doesn't work that way. I finished one thing yesterday, and emailed it off; you would think that today, I would be able to turn with renewed vigour to my languishing chapter. But you would be wrong, because I actually spent most of the day moping around the house, watching bad television and checking my email. Only at about 6pm was I finally able to open up the relevant Word document and start typing.
Because, you see, I need to take breaks. That's a major lesson I've learned in the PhD process: I can only do as much as my body lets me, and that is not nearly as much as I expect myself to be able to do. If I do too much one day, I collapse with exhaustion the next. Maybe I will get better. I certainly hope so, because from what I have seen, academia involves a lot more work, a lot more competing expectations, and then there's that pesky thing called a real life which comes with its own time-consuming challenges. I really admire my colleagues (like Ceri, for example, who works flat out, non-stop), but sadly, I am not a long-distance runner - I am a sprinter, if anything. And my (intellectual) muscles need to take rests between races!
What about you? Are you academic marathon men? Or do you prefer to sip lemonade on the sidelines?