I began reading the latest issue of Creative Non-Fiction few weeks ago. In his editorial, Lee Gutkind waxes lyrical about the feature article “How to Write Like a Mother#^@%*&”, and rightly so. Writing regularly (and researching beforehand) is good advice. It’s advice I intended to follow.
A week or so after reading the editorial and article, I got a call from someone I wasn’t expecting to hear from. Days later I was accepting a new job role. The new job is a little different from the old one. I used to get a lot of time to research and write. Now I get none. Yet, to continue onward in academia, I must continue to do both – ‘publish or perish’ as they say.
The advice I got before I took the job was that we’re all in the same boat at this level. We make time when we can, and make good use of the few moments we get to write. With my writing plans already mapped out for the year ahead and beyond, these days I find myself writing hard when I get a chance. I focus on quality not quantity. Some ideas for low impact papers have been shelved, but the high impact ones are now even higher.
Clichés aside, I’ve spent the last few weekends writing. And during those in-between moments on the tram to work and at the mid-week dinner table, I’ve been thinking about writing. I enjoy the process, but it is exhausting. Last Tuesday I finished a paper I’d given a lot of time and effort to. I’m pleased with the result (and hope the reviewers will be too). I actually think I’ve made a better job of it than I would have if I’d had more time. It is definitely the best thing I’ve written so far. How sustainable is this though?
If this is to be the future of my writing, there will be less musing and more ‘getting on with it’. In being more quality-focused, I’ve definitely become more diligent. I get hold of an idea and shake it by the scruff of the neck. I don’t read too far around it, ponder it over a special breakfast, or procrastinate about how I’ll get it onto the page. Writing for me has become efficient and effective. Yet is far from ‘workmanlike’. It is, I think, inspired though time compressed. It must be to get published.
So in my ‘getting on with it’ I’ll continue to take the odd weekend here and there to work on my next paper, and to keep the book moving forward. I’ll also get a bit of goodwill at the office to make a few blocks of time to write. Whilst I’ll be spending less time thinking about writing, I’ll probably be spending more time doing it. And the more I do, the easier it will get. This new job could be the best thing to happen to my writing.