I’ve written before about the mis-use of the term “binge writing”. I don’t just mean writing for long periods of time, which is what you’ve probably been doing all summer. I mean binging:
- Are you tempted to push yourself beyond what you know from experience is the optimum amount of writing you can do well in a day?
- Are you tempted to cancel a vacation? Or stop taking a day or two off every week?
- Are you telling yourself you don’t have time to eat well, exercise, or sleep as much as you know you need to because you have all this writing to do and it’s almost term time?
In other words, are you doing the equivalent of thinking that one piece of cheesecake was sooooo good you are going to eat 3 more right now?
That’s binge writing. It makes you feel kinda sick afterwards. It might even make you feel kinda sick while you are doing it but you ignore that feeling and keep going.
What if you knew there would still be cheesecake tomorrow?
What you really need is not to binge on cheesecake today, a strategy that might very well put you off cheesecake, but rather a decent container for your cheesecake so you can enjoy small amounts over a longer period of time.
This is where the similarity between cheesecake and writing ends. You could live without cheesecake. You couldn’t live without your research and writing. It is a crucial part of your work. I’m going to change metaphor right now.
Writing is one of the essential nutrients in your balanced work diet
Not writing in term time is like denying yourself essential nutrients for months and hoping the damage to your health is not too severe because you have a plan to replenish those nutrients next summer or when you get your sabbatical.
When you go on a long hike and want to limit the weight you are carrying, would you not pack food? No, you’d pack fruit, protein bars, and water. These provide essential nourishment in a compact, easy to serve way.
Can you plan your term time writing so that it is the hiking snacks to your summer full balanced meals? Would that calm your panic and allow you to continue eating the summer meals you planned without binging?
Members of the Academic Writing Studio will have a Planning Your Autumn Semester class. I’ll be running it in August and in September to account for different academic year start dates. And there is always a recording in the Studio for DIY planning. Joining the Studio also gives you access to other resources, a community, and (optional) a regular synchronous Meeting With Your Writing to support your plans.
This post was edited July 27, 2017.