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?


MuseumWriter said…
Oh, I agree with you: I sprint. And sometimes it only happens once a week! This last week has been especially hard because I'm trying to get back into research (opposed to writing) mode and it's not happening without a great deal of headache. I've managed about 2 hours of work each day, in a solid mass, and then faffed about the rest of the time! I wish I was a marathon runner...

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