Brief, Daily Sessions

I've been meaning to write this post since yesterday, but there just hasn't been time.

First, yesterday, after walking the dog and making breakfast and having a shower and reading a little bit more in Robert Boice's How Writers Journey to Comfort and Fluency: A Psychological Adventure (1994), there was some translation to do, which took until it was time to leave for campus in order to go to a workshop.

Then there were proofs to correct for the article that I had accepted this winter (my first new piece in over three years!), then there was a meeting with some of our graduate students who were worried about what the future holds for them as academics (I told them about Boice's other book, which I now need to read myself even though I am no longer "new" to the whole business of "being faculty").

Then there was more work to do on the proofs, at which time it was after time to go home, interrupt my son's game of Minecraft with his friends, and go to the Field Museum for Members' Night, where my husband was showing off the scans of the mummies and my friend (and fellow fencer) Marie was demonstrating how to skin a pheasant (no kidding; the things fencers do in their spare time, eh?).

Then it was late and I just wanted to go to bed, even though I hadn't done any of the reading that I meant to do for the day, never mind getting round to writing something for the blog.

And then it was Saturday, and I had to get up early to go to a meeting uptown, which took a little over two hours including driving there and back.  When I got home, there was grocery shopping and laundry to do (happily kicked off by my husband, otherwise it would never have gotten done), then lunch to eat, and a nap (more necessary than maybe it sounds, but I usually need a nap on the weekend to catch up from staying up too late during the week).

When I woke up, the dog needed to go out.  Then I needed to consult with my son about planning his upcoming birthday party (no. 16!), at which point my husband got home from giving another talk about the CT scans, and we needed to talk (ahem) about scheduling our summer vacation (a.k.a. family road trip from here to Anaheim for Summer Nationals--woohoo!).

And then, somehow, after tempers had cooled down (we had a difference of opinion on how long we should take there and back), it was already 6 pm and I still hadn't done my marking for the week.  So I spent the next couple of hours reading my students' wonderful blog posts and making what comments I could (don't trust the time stamps; I thought I'd set us on Central, but it looks like they're still on Pacific time).

After which, it was time for dinner.  And taking the dog out again.  And now, at long last, I have time to sit down and write.  And have nothing to say despite everything that has happened in the past couple of days, precisely because there has been no time to write.

Or has there?  This, of course, is Prof. Boice's first lesson, after waiting and finding ways to take regular comfort breaks during writing sessions: "Begin [practicing writing] with truly brief sessions, perhaps no more than fifteen minutes; the point is to establish the habit of regular work related to writing."

But how?!!  I have had so many ideas rattling around in my head just the past couple of days, I could have written a dozen blog posts, if only I had been able to sit still long enough.  Instead, the days dribbled away, everything that I was doing somehow (arguably) necessary, but none of it (except, technically, my translation; and, okay, correcting the proofs on my article) in fact contributing to my writing (although I did take those notes when I got home this morning, and I think I have figured out the introductory argument to my next book).

Um.  Am I doing more "writing" than I actually realize?  Does it count as "regular work related to writing" if I spend an hour talking with a friend about the larger argument of my work?  Does it count if I take notes for the sermon that I am supposed to be giving in a couple of weeks even if I haven't gotten anywhere near to writing yet (and meant to today, but there wasn't time)?  Does it count if I spent the walk home yesterday worrying about why the editor took the last sentence out of my piece and how I can convince him to put it back in?  Where does simply faffing about end and "regular work related to writing" begin?

I have no idea, I still have reading to do in order to be able to prepare tomorrow for Monday's class.

After I go to church. 

After I've walked the dog.

I'm tired now, I need to go to bed.

And I still haven't really written anything.

Or have I?

[Update: It's funny how after posting this post, I still had time to spend a good twenty minutes trawling around in my blog, musing about the older posts that I've written.  Time spent writing creates more time?  That's a good thought for a post.]

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