On (Not) Writing Academic Articles

I know how to write an academic article. I train people how to do their research, and how to structure their papers. I'm a peer reviewer for a number of journals, and I read such articles on a regular basis.

Given all of this, why is it so gosh-danged hard to compose myself and get myself together to write one myself? I have a good seed of an idea. I've printed all my research and have ILL-ed the books we, of course, don't own. The problem is that I cannot seem to pull my brain together in similar fashion. I can't decide where to start. I can't stop the hamster on its wheel in my brain for long enough to sit with the articles and just READ.

My trouble is that I have developed work-induced ADD. I have grown accustomed to putting out fires and working in fifteen minute blocks of time (generally interrupted by meetings, emergencies, backing up at the refdesk, teaching, and random folks wandering into my office). This is the nature of the beast. I recognize that, and I enjoy it - I would die of dullness if my job were the same every day.

Perhaps part of it is that it's Friday. It's the Friday of a week that has been characterized primarily by a lack of sleep (due to my own vague illnesses of springtime, as well as my pupster's recent sickness) and various new stressors (like being volunteered to present unpopular material to the Faculty Senate and doing my first public poetry reading among strangers - and a few colleagues).

I'll admit it. I'm cranky and tired. I need a week on a beach to clear my brain of the clutter of a semester, and unplug from everything electronic. I'm starting to seriously despise my computer screen. And this article isn't writing itself. Ugh.


Anonymous said…
While I've only successfully done this twice (in many, many attempts) the trick seems to be escape from the cubicle. (I'm lucky, I have a door to my cubie so I pretend to escape by closing & locking & not answering -- but outright not being there to have questions asked of is what I mean)

I've felt/been hyper-productive on mornings where I've blocked off 4 hours on my calendar, come in a few hours early, not set up the laptop, and stayed totally off-grid.

Good luck & congrats on having the seed of an idea to germinate.
I can haz one two plz?
Colleen said…
I am definitely more productive when away from the electronics and questioning wanderers. I think I will try that.

As for giving away idea-seeds...if I come across any, I promise to send them your way!
Rudy said…
I suffer from this too. Continuous partial attention is no way to do real research. I also think our field, in general, has a less rigorous approach to the work we do (get it done, do it well, don't think it all through ahead) that might negatively impact inspiration to knuckle down.

Unfortunately, I am generally unable to clear chunks of time from my schedule, and find my office a tough place to shift from 'work' space to 'research' space. And am generally not allowed to work from home... Your situation sounds generally more amenable, in all ways, though, so I expect you'll make it work very well!
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