Wednesday, April 6

cats, crowbars, writing

I got to check in on friend Liz's two kitties a few weeks ago. and since it was spring break, I had a little extra time to hang out with them.
time for taking a photo or two. the grey one is Tootsie. the orange kitten is Buttercup.
there is a crowbar on the floor there, and I'm not sure what the crowbar is for. but it's there. handy.

my daily thousand words of meta-scholarly writing has gotten a little bit more difficult in recent days. the week after spring break seemed to be rough on most of my colleagues. and now conference season is upon us, plus the crazy pressures of a busy end-of-semester. but part of a meta-scholarly writing habit is letting it you about your own process and rhythm and preferences and brain-zones. everyone knows writing is not an easy task, not an easy life. sometimes a thousand words is like breathing, and sometimes it's like donating bone marrow or something.

I made a list, last week, when writing was not happening and my motivation was shredded. instead of torturing one stupid sentence after another out of my teeth, I notched down a small collection of strategies that feel productive, though perhaps in different ways. these are alternatives. they aren't as quantifiable as wordcounts, but they are something.

in no particular order, things to do when writing seems like the most pointless thing ever:

-mess around with formatting for a change. a new font or a different margin might shake loose new thoughts.
-put together bibliographical info, reference lists, or footnotes.
-switch to reading. or even work on creating a good reading list to start putting dents in.
-switch to planning or list-making, maybe for future classes/lessons, maybe for other projects.
-doodle or sketch what I am thinking or wanting to think, working on or wanting to work on.
-re-read my own stuff. take notes on old drafts or old seminar papers, noticing what it does and doesn’t do, what it could do, or what it needs.
-brainstorm, chase random new ideas around.
-switch genres—make the article into a poem, the draft into an email, the proposal into a monologue narrative.
-switch the imagined audience. write this idea to your sister or aunt or to a specific friend, see what happens.
-research or follow up on research, skimming other people’s bibliographies.
-message someone for a short pep talk. I am lucky to have so many people who are more than happy to encourage me if I reach out. this whole awesome hashtag is there, if nothing else.

all of these options are important for me to build into my scholarly processes, alongside a word-count-based writing habit. one whole thousand words a day is semi-ambitious, and it isn’t always going to be as easy as I have so far boasted. but it's a process. maybe today, while I am here and there, between normal and conference, this blogpost counts as scholarship.

speaking of conference time, I'm banking on this conference to pour light into my academic soul this week, to pull me back in. let us hope it will be good. inspiring. brain-sparking and thought-spinning and network-proliferating.

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