Advice from other people

On a train journey home in recent weeks, I heard that for the last year of her PhD my travelling companion used to get up at 5am, write until 8 and then get the children off to school and herself off to work. I had been expressing how frustrating it was that, with the best will in the world, I could not get myself to commit an hour in the evenings to writing this thesis. I’ve got tons of reading done (which means I need to augment my bibliography) but stretches of uninterrupted evenings working on something as self-centred as a thesis have been hard to come by. You know the way it is: food, cleaning up, friends calling and family commitments; none of which are burdensome.

While I do not have any children and I’m lucky enough to be in a job that does not require me to account for every 15 minutes of my working day, in the last fortnight I have been getting up an hour earlier than usual for a few mornings per week. There’s a certain comfort in wandering into the next room and switching on the computer to commit another few hundred words. Not that it is easy every morning that I have done this. There’s a focus at 6.22am that might have something to do with it being out of routine and lacking in other pressing distractions.

On advice from an internet-browsing Dad, I’ve convinced myself that writing regularly, even in short bursts, allows the practice of writing to take place. Based on the idea that any writing is better than long periods of none at all,  there’s a truth to it. Recently, I’ve been visualizing the reading I have done as a road stretching to the horizon, to my left and right. My take on this ‘public sphere and secularism as disciplinary action in space’ thing is a way to get to look either side, take a step off this road and into the heath. I am choosing to take a position that makes me uncomfortable and will wreck my head. No one sits down having read the entire corpus of a discipline, conducted fieldwork and chosen the relevant points of engagement, cracks their fingers and writes a thesis. I’m not going to hang around for years with this thing; I would like it by the end of my 40th year, thank you very much, and then move on.

That’s 404 words in itself.

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6 thoughts on “Advice from other people

  1. Well done , developing the early morning writing is something I’d recommend. I suggest you set your
    alarm for two hours before your normal wake-up time. It’ll break the back off any block, though do not
    expect publishable-quality material .

  2. hmmmmmmm,

    its also important to feed the source of your writing by reading and thinking !! The thing with the reading
    is simple enough – books should stimulate the mind and imagination. The ‘arising early to write’ every day
    should only be considered a temporary measure until a rhythm is re-established.

    I should talk ! I am re-editing something and proofing because I cannot write more than a paragraph
    or two a day !

    1. I agree. The writing is being fed by imaginative thinkings and lots of reading. And it is not every day, thankfully.

      Good luck with your own work.

  3. Morning work or night work ? It depends on whether you’re a morning or night person. In any case try to get at least 7 hours sleep. Keep the weekends for fun.

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