Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Finding versus making time

One of our faculty authors sighed and started to tell us all this week about how she "just wasn't able to find the time" to work on her overdue book, because her daughter has swine flu, her department hosted a conference, and her husband had to go out of town to meet with caregivers about his mom.

She was just launching into the final busy anecdote when she realized how much she sounded like the people in the Paul Silvia book (How to Write a Lot) where he laughs at the notion that one "finds" time for writing. You make time. After all -- she said after she caught herself saying this stuff -- she had "found" time to watch the news on TV, and shop for and bake something for a school sale. When it occurred to her that she could have recorded the TV show, bought some cupcakes at her favorite neighborhood shop for the sale and gotten some of her writing done, she smiled. I never preach here (I'd have to preach holding up a mirror, because I do this stuff, too, although at the moment I'm deeply into that article).

Writing doesn't have to take long. We only ask for an hour a day, although you can give it more if you're so inclined (a typical Booklab faculty member with a family does between 1.5 and 2 hours a day five days a week if a project is underway, and adds weekends only if it is due). Just that small commitment can yield more than most professors ever produce, and it can easily result in two articles per year and a book every two-three years.

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