Back at It

I’m deep in a funk this morning, and am having a hard time yanking myself out of it.* So I’ve decided to overcompensate by writing a bit about something that actually is going well: getting my priorities a bit straightened out and getting back to work on my revisions.

A few months back, I switched over from using my tried-and-true clock radio on my bedside to using my iPhone as my alarm clock, plugged into a nightstand charging dock. It worked fabulously, but over the last few months, I’d gotten into a Very Bad Habit: when I woke up, before even turning on the lamp, I’d reach over and grab the iPhone and check my email, catch up on Twitter, etc.

I had the sense I was being efficient — hey look, I’m just now brushing my teeth and I already know what’s going on in the world — but what I was in fact doing was derailing the work train of thought, undoing any chance that I’d be able to do the thing that I’ve known for years works best for me: taking the first half-hour of the morning, before I do anything else, to write. If I let the day come crashing in, it’s all but impossible for me to reclaim it, to carve the necessary headspace back out in order find clarity on the project.

So Sunday, after I got home from the NITLE Summit, I unplugged the charging dock and moved the old-school clock radio back to my bedside. The iPhone stays on my desk overnight, and I quit all of the networking applications on my computer before I go to bed. And when I get up, after brushing my teeth, feeding the cats, and making coffee, I crank up Concentrate. I’ve created a project that opens the document I’m working in, opens the CommentPress version of the book in a browser window, and blocks all of my networking sites — email, Twitter, whathaveyou — for 30 minutes.

And for the last two days, I’ve spent that 30 minutes getting myself back into the project. Slowly and somewhat painfully, yes, but it’s working.

That, I need to remember.


*Said funk is coincidentally not entirely unrelated to that which I was apparently in five years ago today.


  1. Dammit, for the last year, I am where you were 5 years ago, to a tee, almost exactly. I read beyond the posts you link to here. But seriously, how did you get out of it?

  2. hello,

    I just want to thank you so much for linking to your posts from 5 years ago. I am still a grad student but in a space where whining and funk are (sadly!) currently front and center; I too, have seen inequities spring up around me (everyone else seems to have “free” time to write thanks to more $$, and get more attention from faculty, etc.) As much as you did not want your whine “out there,” this is exactly what so many of us are desperate to hear–that successful folk have encountered similar obstacles at one point or another. My public whine has been way too loud, but I’m trying to quiet that voice, replace it instead with more productive questions to fellow scholars, and yes, mentors, that will “listen” via this wonderful backchannel. It’s quite helpful to hear how others quit the funk and get back to writing. Thank you!!

  3. @Kathy: A huge percentage of getting out of it was really this blog, figuring out that even if it felt like no one was paying attention to my research, folks were paying attention to me here — and that I could use this platform as a means of getting myself into circulation. But part of it, too, was getting over that girly reluctance to blow my own horn, that ingrained modesty that made me believe that self-promotion was unseemly and that good ideas will make themselves known.

    They might. If the person who has those good ideas is lucky enough to be at the right kind of institution, supported by the right folks, in ways that make self-promotion invisible, or at least make it look like something other than self-promotion. Those of us in other kinds of circumstances don’t have the luxury of modesty.

    I had a couple of pieces of seriously good luck, not least of which having if:book take an interest in my hair-brained ideas at a key moment, which really set everything that’s happened since in motion. But if I hadn’t been mouthing off about those hair-brained ideas, they’d never have heard them. And I increasingly believe that mouthing off — including, at key moments, complaining about systemic inequities — is necessary to getting anything done.

    And I’m glad to know, @Rachel, that having the complaints out there helps. The network that started developing for me through this blog, and that continues developing via Twitter, has been at the heart of everything I’ve done in the last five years, precisely in turning the funk into productive questions. So keep going!


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