Almost exactly six years ago, I decided to make the final push to finish my dissertation – after three years of writing fits and starts and many life pauses, including the birth of my daughter. My decision meant I gave up many things and began binge-writing for days on end. The isolation, stress and self-loathing were terrible. But friends were kind and supportive and gave me courage to finish, defend, and graduate. Two important things happened along the way.
First, I figured out I actually had something to say. And I figured out I didn’t want to write like that any more.
In my work at Vanderbilt’s Center for Teaching that same semester, I led a discussion about Robert Boice’s book Advice for New Faculty Members. Based on meditation practice and 30 years of research with new faculty, the book teaches how to write in brief daily sessions, to reduce emotional attachments to writing, to ask for help, to pause before starting, and to leave a bit over for the next session.
Giving birth to this book today, I can say with confidence, my writing habits are changed.
In early December I went into what I thought was the final push of laboring on my book. Two weeks turned into three. I worked steadily but never binged. Then I took a break and celebrated Christmas and New Years with my family. I went back to it after the break, and although I narrowed the circle of people I leaned on, I didn’t isolate or binge-write. I still enjoyed time with my family, carried on other kinds of work, and followed my task list for writing, working in 25 minute poms.
When I finished the book’s introduction today, I laughed a little, cried a little and did a happy dance. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me along this way. I’m grateful!
Stay tuned for what’s next….