The disciplined writer

6 Aug

This time I am going to argue in favour of discipline, but only insofar as it comes from yourself. Being well organized – ensuring, for instance, that you make regular progress on your project – makes you more independant. You define your own goals and stay in charge of where your work is leading you. Waiting for deadlines to draw near forces you to work under external pressure and procrastinating is sure to make you feel guilty for engaging in important activities that are not work-related. You may even work all day, accumulating hours that aren’t productive at all. I like to get up early, write for a relatively short time (one to three hours) and then move on to different activities. Being disciplined allows me to retain a sense of potency in other areas of my life and remain my own master. Although intellectual work is crucial to me I also believe in praxis, in creativity, in community, and I need to protect my time in order to stay engaged in the world.

As I wrote in my previous post, there are exceptions to this, times when I feel it is necessary to reflect on my writing from a certain distance. I sometimes wonder if I truly own my academic project since at least some of my achievement will be claimed by the institution in the end. By being organized and limiting the time I spend on it, I nevertheless make sure that academia doesn’t control my entire life. Working efficiently forces me to stay focused on the essential, a skill which also allows me to steal time from paid jobs for personal projects on occasion.

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