Monday, July 19, 2010

Summer days, driftin' away...

In my endless quest to claim the title of Queen of Procrastination, I inadvertently stumbled upon some fantastic inspiration to get moving on my summer writing projects. Kerry Anne Rockquemore's Support for Summer Writers series in InsideHigherEd is a goldmine of supportive, compassionate advice for those of us (all of us?) who are facing the waning weeks of the summer with increasing trepidation. She explores the concept that Writing IS Thinking in her most recent column, saying that you need to "expand your sense of what "counts" as writing... If the pen is moving on the page (or your fingers on the keyboard), then you’re writing. Drafting a manuscript “counts,” but so does freewriting, generating field-notes, editing and revising, outlining, mind-mapping, describing a new idea, preparing a bibliography, consolidating reviewer comments into a list for revision, etc. In other words, anything that helps move a manuscript out the door “counts” as writing. Expanding your notion of what constitutes writing should help you reduce your resistance by making daily writing feel like a normal part of your every day routine."

I feel more productive already, just being reassured that I have indeed been writing!! (Although I notice blogging doesn't make the list...damn.)

She also suggests it's perfectly acceptable to Lower Your Expectations: "High expectations are tricky. On the one hand, if you're reading this column, you've already experienced tremendous educational success and that is likely tied to having high expectations for yourself. On the other hand, when our expectations about who we should be, how we should feel, what we should achieve, and the impact our work should have in the world are too high, unexamined, inappropriate for our current career stage, or generated from a desperate need to prove ourselves, they become a straitjacket."

I especially like her idea of establishing a 0-100% reviewer list. You subdivide manuscript "doneness" into quartiles: 0-25%, 25-50%, 50-75%, and 75-100%. At each stage, have somebody take a look. Holding onto a manuscript until it is "perfect" can increase your perfectionist anxiety. This sounds like pure genius to me and I plan on implementing it soon, which means that some of my fellow BANDITs may soon be called into service. Kerry also suggests that you "try adjusting how you approach your first drafts from perfectionist judgment to compassion by treating your initial writing with the same loving gentleness you would give to a baby, a puppy, a seedling, or whatever is small and fragile but will grow into something big and strong."

I really like this imagery of our writing as something that is alive, organic, evolving. Appropriate for us, don't you think?

No comments:

Post a Comment