Staying on track - PhD and other creative projects




Over winter I decided to try and keep track of my writing and research work. During the first lockdown I hardly wrote at all and I am supposed to finish my PhD next year so I had to come up with some strategies for staying productive. The first thing I tried to do was get off social media, but I found myself missing it, sneaking back on, blurting things and then darting away. I opened a second instagram account that was supposed to be *just* for writerly (public) purposes, but this just made me realise I take too many photos. I'm thinking of pressing pause on that until I can sort out my digital life. 

I am quite bad with structure and my brain tends to wake up around midnight so instead of fighting it I've been night-writing a bit. But as long as I manage to write, read and go for a walk I feel like I've had a good day. If I can get all that done in time for Escape to the Country I feel like I am approaching perfection!
 
I've tried to be a hummingbird with my writing and hover on the one thing until it's done. I haven't been writing much fiction, but have been keeping a notebook, for lists and dreams and the vaguely interesting things I see/think about on my walks. I've used a wall-chart to record my word counts, and reading. I was using happy and sad faces for a while there until I realised that the happy faces coincided with days where I got a lot of writing done ... so now I try and write every day (except when I'm teaching.) 

phd fodder - girls and subcultureAt the end of three months this is what I've managed:

1 x 3000 essay

1 x 4000 essay

1 x 5000 word critical paper

2 x 1200 word article

1 x 3000 words fiction.

So I feel like that's pretty good, and I'm going to stick with this method of aiming to do those three basic things every day (reading/writing/walking), plus wall-chart and notebook.

The other difference between this lockdown and the last is that I've been teaching more, and I say I have no structure but that's not entirely true. Two days a week there is somewhere I'm supposed to be and this is a fine thing.  I'm teaching fiction at La Trobe and loving doing the exercises alongside the class. It's a while since I've written anything of length so it's good to be reminded of all the tricks, quirks, habits, lies and fascinations that accompany telling stories. 

What's working for you?


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